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This Is Wiltshire: Ponies grazing in Lydiard Park Ponies grazing in Lydiard Park

SWINDON is lacking a magnet attraction and a broad range of accommodation for holidaymakers, who continue to avoid the town when they are looking for a ‘staycation’.

The Great Britain Tourism Surveyuses three-year averages to determine an annual figure for total trips, holiday trips, total nights, holiday nights, total spend and holiday spend by British residents between 2006 and 2013.

The figures revealed for Swindon show an average of 357,000 total trips were being made in 2006 with 289,000 trips in 2013, with six per cent fewer of those trips being made for holidays.

The declining interest in holidays around Swindon is underlined by the fact there were 184,000 holiday nights in 2006 and an average of just 154,000 in 2013, with as few as 84,000 in 2012.

Despite the decreasing number of stays, holiday spend has not diminished. As it was in 2006, £11m is spent in the town each year in connection with holidays, though this figure too has grown elsewhere in the country.

David Andrews, chief executive at Visit Wiltshire, said: “Throughout the noughties the whole of Wiltshire lost lots of market share.

“There was complacency, a lack of investment. Tourism providers weren’t investing in their product in Swindon and Wiltshire.

“There was a fragmented approach across the county. Everyone was advertising themselves separately.

“Tourism has been growing at a rapid rate and is set to grow for a number of years. A lot of our competitors put a lot of money into tourism.”

Mr Andrews said the landscape had changed for Swindon since 2011, with the rise of his organisation as a unifying factor in pushing all marketing in the same direction.

Swindon has plenty of budget and three-star hotels, according to the tourism chief, and the town should be looking to target business tourism in the future – exploiting the town’s location.

Mr Andrews said there was little concern surrounding the closure of the Menzies and Madison hotels in the past nine months.

He said the Madison had failed to invest in its rooms and as such, suffered with online reviewers, whereas the Menzies simply shut because of a national restructuring.

Marketing is improving. Visit Wiltshire currently has an ad campaign running at London’s mainline train stations with plugs for tourists bringing their bicycles on the train to Swindon for a cycling break.

On the problems facing Swindon in the tourism sector, Mr Andrews said: “Brand and identity are something Swindon Council will be talking about with us over the coming weeks.

“One challenge is getting a broader range of accommodation in place to suit a broader range of tourists.

“Greater investment is needed in marketing, promotion and extending the working being done in order to encourage Swindon as a tourist destination.”

Mr Andrews said Swindon, despite its reputation in some quarters, could become a true tourist destination if it had the right product.

“No destination can be everything to everybody and it’s about being smart with who you are targeting,” he said.

“Swindon’s location is a great asset. There are a number of groups looking for good value accommodation in the right location and on that level, Swindon can compete with anywhere.

“Anybody that says Swindon doesn’t have potential is wrong. Tourism is growing at five per cent-a-year.

“We need to make that effort, otherwise we are missing out on the growing market.”

Coun Garry Perkins (Con, Haydon Wick), cabinet member for economy, regeneration and culture, put much of the decline down to the recession, but offered answers on why other local authorities had performed better during the same economic downturn.

“There hasn’t been a good spend on that side of things for the last five or six years on that side,” he said.

“People don’t have the money to spend on frivolities, when food and rent is costing so much.

“Swindon Council has spent quite a bit of time looking at attractions like Steam, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, Coate Water and Lydiard Park.

“We are aware we need to make more of those attractions.

“We also have the project currently going on at the museum, where money has been pumped in to rediscover some of the town’s older art pieces. That’s the type of change which might attract more people.

“It’s an industrialised town with a lot of heritage. We are beginning to pull that to the front so that people can understand it’s not just a town on the way to London or the West Country.

“There’s an awful lot happening in Swindon. We just need to find some money to hang some banners up to show that off.

“The fact Swindon has not been seen to be a tourist attraction should not be a barrier to future success.

“We just need to get people into Swindon so they can see it within that area.”

Coun Perkins drew attention to the project currently ongoing at the Oasis Leisure Centre and the impending arrival of the Europe’s largest indoor ski slope as the type of magnet which could pull a regular stream of people into the town.

“We can’t pinch Stonehenge and bring people in here with that,” he said. “Unfortunately we lack one of those draws in Swindon. We have to create our own magnet.

“Once we bring them in we have to keep them here.”

Swindon & Cricklade Railway, based near Blunsdon, accounts for 16,000 visitors each year to the local area.

It’s publicity manager Adrian Brodie said ignorance can be a significant factor, with people living on the doorstep of the heritage railway not even knowing it’s there, let alone visitors from beyond the county.

“Swindon & Cricklade Railway is often referred to as Swindon’s best-kept secret. We have locals around here saying they we didn’t know we existed despite living nearby for more than 20 years,” he said.

“It makes me ask what planet they are on. We have a web presence, we appear in the local press and advertise all the time.

“Maybe the issue is Swindon itself. If somebody asks why they should come to Swindon, well, what’s in Swindon?

“It’s best known as the home of the Great Western Railway and the works are still up to date, but what else does it have to offer?

“Swindon’s not a town we shop in at all. I don’t enjoy Swindon at all. The town probably does need a big makeover, it’s a bit dated now.”

Comments (17)

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8:33am Fri 4 Jul 14

house on the hill says...

Blimey, how long did it take to work that one out. Sadly Swindon has very little going for it and it is either somewhere people drive past on the M4 or as a "hub" for going somewhere else. And when you have Bath, Oxford, Reading, Gloucester and even Salisbury within an hour or so drive it isn't surprising they don't stay here.
Blimey, how long did it take to work that one out. Sadly Swindon has very little going for it and it is either somewhere people drive past on the M4 or as a "hub" for going somewhere else. And when you have Bath, Oxford, Reading, Gloucester and even Salisbury within an hour or so drive it isn't surprising they don't stay here. house on the hill
  • Score: 7

8:59am Fri 4 Jul 14

A.Baron-Cohen says...

it is improving slowly.....
it is improving slowly..... A.Baron-Cohen
  • Score: -1

9:04am Fri 4 Jul 14

Davey Gravey says...

Why would anyone come here unless it is to visit someone you know or work? There is nothing here that makes it worth staying for a holiday.
Why would anyone come here unless it is to visit someone you know or work? There is nothing here that makes it worth staying for a holiday. Davey Gravey
  • Score: -1

9:07am Fri 4 Jul 14

Sandor Clegane says...

With Bath, Oxford, Bristol, the Cotswolds, Cardiff and even London all within 80 miles of Swindon, it's fairly laughable to think anyone might choose the town for a holiday.

There is very little here that would attract tourists, certainly nothing that would justify longer than a day's visit.

I suppose it could be viewed as a place to consider as a base to use for travelling to other places each day, but that's not what most holidaymakers do.
With Bath, Oxford, Bristol, the Cotswolds, Cardiff and even London all within 80 miles of Swindon, it's fairly laughable to think anyone might choose the town for a holiday. There is very little here that would attract tourists, certainly nothing that would justify longer than a day's visit. I suppose it could be viewed as a place to consider as a base to use for travelling to other places each day, but that's not what most holidaymakers do. Sandor Clegane
  • Score: 4

9:21am Fri 4 Jul 14

swindondad says...

“It’s an industrialised town with a lot of heritage. We are beginning to pull that to the front so that people can understand it’s not just a town on the way to London or the West Country."

Sorry but as much as I like living and working in Swindon it IS just a town on the M4.
“It’s an industrialised town with a lot of heritage. We are beginning to pull that to the front so that people can understand it’s not just a town on the way to London or the West Country." Sorry but as much as I like living and working in Swindon it IS just a town on the M4. swindondad
  • Score: 8

9:31am Fri 4 Jul 14

Felix A says...

“We can’t pinch Stonehenge and bring people in here with that,” he said. “Unfortunately we lack one of those draws in Swindon. We have to create our own magnet. "

Not to such an extent, but we do have a mini-Avebury at Coate with stone-circles and barrows and a wealth of Neolithic, Roman and Medieval finds. Unfortunately a lot of this is now disappearing under a housing estate before anyone has had a chance to explore its potential as a visitor attraction. And in the area there is Coate Water, the Richard Jefferies Museum, Liddington hill fort, the Ridgeway... how good is that and worth a visit!
“We can’t pinch Stonehenge and bring people in here with that,” he said. “Unfortunately we lack one of those draws in Swindon. We have to create our own magnet. " Not to such an extent, but we do have a mini-Avebury at Coate with stone-circles and barrows and a wealth of Neolithic, Roman and Medieval finds. Unfortunately a lot of this is now disappearing under a housing estate before anyone has had a chance to explore its potential as a visitor attraction. And in the area there is Coate Water, the Richard Jefferies Museum, Liddington hill fort, the Ridgeway... how good is that and worth a visit! Felix A
  • Score: 4

9:41am Fri 4 Jul 14

Ollie Dognacky says...

Yes Swindon could have a tourist trade.
Was this article implemented by The Masonic Lodge of Hotel Builders?
Swindon was never "just a railway town".
The Mechanics' Institute and (original) New Swindon Improvement Company ensured it was a town which led many reforms towards education, health care, and co-operative society.
Sadly that heritage is deliberately neglected by Swindon Borough Clownschool and chums.
The first tech. college converted to flats, The Mechanics' left to rot till it can be "rescued" as a hotel (or flats).
Jefferies Land to be surrounded by sprawl
Most people know very little of the very rich cultural aspects of Swindon as the local authority refuse to learn about it or cherish it.
Of course that would involve real and level consultation with the informed public.
So never going to happen
Score + 256👍
Yes Swindon could have a tourist trade. Was this article implemented by The Masonic Lodge of Hotel Builders? Swindon was never "just a railway town". The Mechanics' Institute and (original) New Swindon Improvement Company ensured it was a town which led many reforms towards education, health care, and co-operative society. Sadly that heritage is deliberately neglected by Swindon Borough Clownschool and chums. The first tech. college converted to flats, The Mechanics' left to rot till it can be "rescued" as a hotel (or flats). Jefferies Land to be surrounded by sprawl Most people know very little of the very rich cultural aspects of Swindon as the local authority refuse to learn about it or cherish it. Of course that would involve real and level consultation with the informed public. So never going to happen Score + 256👍 Ollie Dognacky
  • Score: -3

9:53am Fri 4 Jul 14

MrAngry says...

Swindon is a good place to work and live, but it isn't a holiday destination. You could visit all of Swindon's major attractions in a day.
Swindon is a good place to work and live, but it isn't a holiday destination. You could visit all of Swindon's major attractions in a day. MrAngry
  • Score: 5

10:52am Fri 4 Jul 14

swindondad says...

In defense of Swindon it is a good place for a day trip, the last time my brother and his family came up (from Powys) he and I took all the younger kids around STEAM and had a great time, the wives and older girls reported enjoying the shopping especially in the outlet.
In defense of Swindon it is a good place for a day trip, the last time my brother and his family came up (from Powys) he and I took all the younger kids around STEAM and had a great time, the wives and older girls reported enjoying the shopping especially in the outlet. swindondad
  • Score: 4

10:59am Fri 4 Jul 14

Davey Gravey says...

Its certainly not an unpleasant town and I'm sure people enjoy it when visiting friends and family but that's as afr as it goes. You'd never pick Swindon for a break,would you?
👎👎👎👎👎
👎👎
Its certainly not an unpleasant town and I'm sure people enjoy it when visiting friends and family but that's as afr as it goes. You'd never pick Swindon for a break,would you? 👎👎👎👎👎 👎👎 Davey Gravey
  • Score: 3

12:38pm Fri 4 Jul 14

messyits says...

Something like Alton Towers--Centre Parks or Thorpe Park close to the motorway might help.
Something like Alton Towers--Centre Parks or Thorpe Park close to the motorway might help. messyits
  • Score: -5

1:18pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Al Smith says...

messyits wrote:
Something like Alton Towers--Centre Parks or Thorpe Park close to the motorway might help.
How about a snow dome and other new leisure facilities at the Oasis ?

Oh wait SBC strike again, they hand over the lease to the Oasis and then bend over backward to please Moirai and nothing happens. In March 2013 we were told (lied to?) that construction work was due to begin in March 2014. They've even delayed some of the repairs and renovation work to the Oasis.

Someone mentioned the Mechanics Institute, well that's another example of a council (and NIMBY) balls-up around 25 years ago! Developers were prepared to spend a lot of money sorting the place out and turning it into a hotel, what did the council (and the greater spotted Swindon moron) do? Oppose it, so instead of a nice 4/5* hotel that people might actually want to stay in we have a ruin.
[quote][p][bold]messyits[/bold] wrote: Something like Alton Towers--Centre Parks or Thorpe Park close to the motorway might help.[/p][/quote]How about a snow dome and other new leisure facilities at the Oasis ? Oh wait SBC strike again, they hand over the lease to the Oasis and then bend over backward to please Moirai and nothing happens. In March 2013 we were told (lied to?) that construction work was due to begin in March 2014. They've even delayed some of the repairs and renovation work to the Oasis. Someone mentioned the Mechanics Institute, well that's another example of a council (and NIMBY) balls-up around 25 years ago! Developers were prepared to spend a lot of money sorting the place out and turning it into a hotel, what did the council (and the greater spotted Swindon moron) do? Oppose it, so instead of a nice 4/5* hotel that people might actually want to stay in we have a ruin. Al Smith
  • Score: 0

3:28pm Fri 4 Jul 14

OESMUM says...

When you see what they have done with Saltaire in Yorkshire and then look at what Swindon has done with the Railway Village you do kind of despair at the council. The Railway Village, if well looked after and maintained could have been a big draw to the town; however, the council have let the area go to ruin - this is our heritage and really should have been looked after. The canals are starting to look better after many years working on them, but still lack a visitor centre to educate people about the canals in the area - perhaps we will see this one day. We do have history and should be proud of our heritage - but sadly we seem to live in a town where everything is torn down to make way for new - very sad. I would even go so far as to say the the Mela was a big attraction - but the council put paid to that too!!
When you see what they have done with Saltaire in Yorkshire and then look at what Swindon has done with the Railway Village you do kind of despair at the council. The Railway Village, if well looked after and maintained could have been a big draw to the town; however, the council have let the area go to ruin - this is our heritage and really should have been looked after. The canals are starting to look better after many years working on them, but still lack a visitor centre to educate people about the canals in the area - perhaps we will see this one day. We do have history and should be proud of our heritage - but sadly we seem to live in a town where everything is torn down to make way for new - very sad. I would even go so far as to say the the Mela was a big attraction - but the council put paid to that too!! OESMUM
  • Score: 2

12:32am Sat 5 Jul 14

Ollie Dognacky says...

I absolutely agree.
New Lanark is another example of how great Swindon could be.
All of the features that make New Lamark a world heritage site (swap Mills for railway works), all of the reforms and social advancement were equally as significant in The Railway Village.
If only SBC could give a t0ss
I absolutely agree. New Lanark is another example of how great Swindon could be. All of the features that make New Lamark a world heritage site (swap Mills for railway works), all of the reforms and social advancement were equally as significant in The Railway Village. If only SBC could give a t0ss Ollie Dognacky
  • Score: -3

1:23am Sat 5 Jul 14

messyits says...

Ollie Dognacky wrote:
I absolutely agree.
New Lanark is another example of how great Swindon could be.
All of the features that make New Lamark a world heritage site (swap Mills for railway works), all of the reforms and social advancement were equally as significant in The Railway Village.
If only SBC could give a t0ss
SBC have yet to realise councillors should listen to the public they swear to serve--rather than political diatribe.
[quote][p][bold]Ollie Dognacky[/bold] wrote: I absolutely agree. New Lanark is another example of how great Swindon could be. All of the features that make New Lamark a world heritage site (swap Mills for railway works), all of the reforms and social advancement were equally as significant in The Railway Village. If only SBC could give a t0ss[/p][/quote]SBC have yet to realise councillors should listen to the public they swear to serve--rather than political diatribe. messyits
  • Score: -1

6:12am Sun 6 Jul 14

LocalBob80 says...

Absolutely
Absolutely LocalBob80
  • Score: 0

6:31pm Sun 6 Jul 14

messyits says...

When will our councillors realise their duty is to the people of Swindon not to their party.
When will our councillors realise their duty is to the people of Swindon not to their party. messyits
  • Score: 0

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