Visit Isle of Wight has revealed that after two years focusing on Dinosaur Island as a summer campaign, the Destination Management Organisation will be putting the Garden Isle landscape at the heart of the marketing message for the next two years.
Activity will focus around promoting parks and gardens, art and music in open spaces, local food and drink (producers and outlets), and a campaign to advertise events taking place in garden and park settings. Garden festivals and horticultural showcases are also being explored, and these will hopefully result in large events in 2016.
The Garden Isle theme embraces wildlife, natural outdoor spaces and the AONB as well as more manicured gardens and parks and refers to the original Victorian appeal of the Island as a picturesque and natural holiday destination. Initiatives will hopefully include the tidying up of local eye sores, involve wider participation with garden designers, growers, garden centres and nature organisations like RSPB and the Wildlife Trust and lead to more involvement in schemes like Wight in Bloom. The initiative will hopefully involve local schools and the wider community in activities that help to celebrate local customs, and improve local communities for the benefit of local residents.
As in previous years, there will be marketing partners working with Visit Isle of Wight to attract visitors off Island, both on the mainland and in Europe. The activities planned are expected to encourage more first time visitors to the Island and help to attract more short term breaks as well as longer holidays in 2015 and 2016. The marketing and PR activity will be especially geared to attracting mid-week and weekend breaks in hotels and guest house as well as improve the Island’s profile as a camping and outdoor activities destination. Visit Isle of Wight believes that the broad appeal of gardening and the great outdoors will help to widen the appeal of the Island in future years.
“We’re announcing this theme early”, says David Thornton, “because in spite of the risk of a competing destination copying the idea, we want our tourism providers to have plenty of time to think about how they can make use of this theme in their own marketing and product development. Many hotels and guest houses have great garden spaces, could arrange nature walks with local suppliers in their area, participate in local food and drink weekends, or simply review their photo library to make sure that their gardens look great in photos advertising their properties. We’ll be on the lookout for exciting and interesting garden and wildlife events that will capture the media’s imagination in the hope that we can build a programme of events throughout the Spring and Autumn that will communicate our longer sunnier seasons and the appeal of our natural Island”.
“Longer holidays were up more than 16% this summer on the Island, but shorter breaks have taken a dip this year and that needs addressing urgently. We need to be more direct in communicating the appeal of the Island to couples and traditional markets throughout the year whilst maintain our family appeal in holiday seasons. Visitors come to the Island to get away from it all. Some guests relax whilst others search out an adrenalin rush in the great outdoors – we have something for everyone, and our landscape is at the heart of the story, from the well-manicured gardens of Godshill Model Village and tea gardens, to the wild and dramatic landscapes of West Wight and the majesty of the grounds at Osborne House. When we launched our strategy two years ago we promised that we would claim back our dinosaur heritage and build our Garden Isle reputation back up within the first five years of our operation”. Consumer campaign activity is set to launch around May next year.