‘Sidmouth hotels and businesses should work together’

Collaboration was the order of the day as Sidmouth tourism leaders met with businesses and organisations on Monday.

Representatives of the chamber of commerce, town council and the hospitality association agreed that cross-promotion of events would benefit everyone.

Guests at the Sidmouth and District Hospitality Association’s annual general meeting heard that spreading the word about fashion shows, science festivals and jubilee celebrations in and around the town will boost the whole area.

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce chairman Steven Kendall-Torry said: “We need to work more closely together – there are so many events that nobody ever heard of.”

He said the Tour of Britain would bring international interest that hotels and businesses alike should capitalise on.

The businessman added that smaller events like Budleigh Salterton’s literary festival could also bring tourists to Sidmouth, and vice versa.

“Tourists aren’t going to stay here all week – we should be encouraging them to go to other local towns,” he said.

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Hospitality association president James Sharp agreed, saying: “We need to make the most of all these events on our doorstep.”

Town councillor John Dyson thanked the hotels and restaurants for supporting the Hopper Bus, which brings visitors to the town for free.

The vehicle has gone from strength to strength and is now self-sufficient, carrying 13,500 people in 100 days last year.

“I don’t think any other minibus in the country can boast that many passengers,” he said.

Town clerk Christopher Holland said he had welcomed a project to create a leaflet on the Jurassic Coast, because it meant the towns and villages worked together.

“We’re normally friendly rivals, but we have a shared unique selling point,” he said.

The brochure utilised Government funding to promote the World Heritage Site, and required cooperation between councils along the coast.

Victoria Hatfield, from the Heart of Devon tourism board, revealed that Sandy Park in Exeter has been long-listed to host some of the qualifying matches in the 2015 rugby world cup.