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Touriststo be wooed by Trojan tactics

TOURISM bosses hope visitor numbers in Chester will soar when a Trojan Horse is parachuted into a rival shopping centre.

TOURISM bosses hope visitor numbers in Chester will soar when a Trojan Horse is parachuted into a rival shopping centre.

Gerald Tattum, city council tourism development officer, says there are plans to install a tourism information centre at Cheshire Oaks which could promote destinations across the region, including Chester.

It sounds reminiscent of the ancient myth in which Greek soldiers recaptured Troy by hiding in a hollow wooden horse which the naive Trojans dragged inside the City Walls.

However, Mr Tattum said it was wrong to see the shopping centre as the enemy.

'The most important thing is that we all work together to try to increase tourism for the area and maintain our market share incrementally increasing our visitor numbers within sustainable limits.'

Mr Tattum, who explained the initiative was a joint venture with other local authorities, added: 'With Cheshire Oaks attracting millions of visitors each year it is a great shop window to showcase Chester along with other destinations.

'Chester's overseas tourism market has been hit hard by the foot and mouth crisis which has deterred the usual visitors from the US, Japan and Ireland plus tourists from Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy and Spain.'

Mr Tattum said city council-run tours normally comprised 70% overseas visitors but numbers were down by as much as a quarter.

There had been an increase in visitors from the UK, particularly at weekends, but this was unlikely to compensate for the downturn in the overseas market.

Mr Tattum said: 'Foot and mouth is one of the key impacts and I have been in tourism for 20 years. It is definitely the most challenging time I have experienced.

'I think foreign visitors have also found Britain expensive by comparison with other destinations because of the exchange rate.

'The general feeling in the industry is that it could take up to five years to get back to where we were before foot and mouth started.

'In tourism you are here for the long term. It's a marathon, not a sprint.'

Fighting back initiatives include Chester being marketed in the US along with other heritage cities like York, Bath and Stratford upon Avon.

Chester has also launched an overseas guide which promotes Cheshire's tourist industry in seven languages.

In addition, there are 12 foreign language guides to take visitors around Chester who have undertaken a course in guiding skills run by West Cheshire College.

It is hoped Chester will receive a boost when it appears on a forthcoming Wish You Were Here slot presented by TV funnyman Vic Reeves.

And an extra £98,000 is being pumped into marketing Chester over the next nine months to help businesses recover.

The cash, from the North West Tourist Board, Chester City Council, Cheshire County Council and the North West Development Agency, has been added to by the Chester Hoteliers Association and the Favourite Days Out Consortium to make a total of £106,000.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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