Leicester – tourism and the corporate vision
Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council have established a strong political relationship through the multi-area agreement (MAA), developed early in 2009. The contribution of tourism and the visitor economy to this new way of working has been essential.
Key learnings for other councils
- Place marketing does not always sit easily within the culture of local authorities, but the visitor economy is increasingly important in raising prosperity and encouraging inward investment.
- Locating place marketing within a policy framework and strategy helps achieve management buy-in and prioritises it.
- Moving to a place marketing approach can take a while to develop and embed within a local authority.
The pace of change is important: In Leicester, the process and structure of the MAA complemented the rapid development taking place in the city. People could see changes on the ground that the new approach had helped to deliver. This helped people to support the new way of working.
The city of Leicester sits in the centre of Leicestershire. So for many of the county's 940,500 residents, Nottingham, Birmingham and Derby are equally convenient shopping and cultural centres. So Leicester recognised that it needed to provide an excellent city offer.
It needed to promote its appeal within the county and to the 300,000 people who live in the city as strongly as to its potential visitors. It also recognised the importance of making the most of its assets. These include its people, because it is the people who breathe life into a place.
The city of Leicester is positioned as a value for money destination, and innovative products are what drive people to visit. That approach meshes well with the city's ‘brand' proposition. This tight market focus delivers a steady, sustainable growth in visitor numbers.
The visitor economy in Leicester and Leicestershire is estimated to be worth more than £1.3 billion and visitor numbers to the city and county now stand at over 32.5 million – Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM). Around 35 per cent of visitor spend is made by overnight visitors. Tourism accounts for around 19,951 FTE jobs.
Who is involved?
Leicester Shire Promotions takes the leadership role for tourism and has a close working relationship with the city council. Leicester is the strong destination ‘brand' for the county. It also works with the rural districts through partnerships set up on a needs basis. Their approach is to ‘think destination and act local'.
The One Leicester brand works as an external brand for tourism through Leicester Shire Promotions. The city council focuses on city pride in the community and with businesses. The Place Marketing Group brings together key partners to create a joined up response. They include:
- the city council
- Prospect Leicestershire
- Leicester Shire Promotions
- the city centre director
- Leicestershire County Council
- the three universities: Leicester, Loughborough and De Montfort
- Highcross Centre – a shopping, restaurant and cinema complex in the city centre.
Prospect Leicestershire is the new economic development company charged with delivering physical regeneration and growth, business innovation and support and inward investment throughout Leicester and Leicestershire.
The problems and how we tackled them
The city and the county have a track record of joint working, notably in tourism development and marketing through Leicester Shire Promotions. This is the destination management organisation (DMO) responsible for promoting Leicester and Leicestershire to visitors. It is based on a coordinated place marketing strategy that focuses on ‘destination leadership'.
It role is coordination, attracting visitors, services for visitors, and services for the tourism industry. It is a private not-for-profit company formed in July 2003 as a partnership between Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council.
The main ArkLeisure market segment for Leicester is ‘high streets' and ‘families'.
As a city, Leicester is unusual in having strong appeal to families. This is driven by marketing value for money and short break packages, targeting families with young children in the M25 catchment area.
As the city develops its offer, it is beginning to widen its appeal towards ‘cosmopolitans' seeking a cultural experience. The new and innovative Curve Theatre is a strong product for this market and an important part of the city's repositioning.
Leicester's 25-year vision – also entitled One Leicester - is underpinned by the brand. The development of the vision is the result of extensive partner involvement, driven by a group of partners covering many aspects of city life.
One of the challenges has been to develop an understanding of place marketing and branding. This is needed both within the different departments in the council and with partners in the city. In particular, it has helped people to understand that branding is not just a logo or a one-off action but an ongoing process.
Tourism and the visitor economy are woven into the performance framework of the multi-area agreement (MAA). This recognises the importance of tourism and the visitor economy over a range of city and county priorities.
The new MAA is bringing together the city and county across a wide range of functions. The diagram below sets out the MAA framework. It shows how One Leicester sits within the MAA. It is supported by a clear division of roles between the city and county council and those roles which will be shared between them. These shared roles have the strongest alignment with tourism and the visitor economy and are:
- a productive economy with high performing businesses
- a highly-qualified and skilled workforce in high-value jobs
- improved opportunities for vulnerable people and communities
- a positive image and perception of Leicester and Leicestershire
- a highly-sustainable built environment with excellent infrastructure.
The Leicester and Leicestershire Performance framework sets out 35 performance indicators. Two of these indicators are directly related to tourism. The visitor economy is addressed through a range of other actions, including those related to connectivity and employment and skills.
Outcomes and impact
The One Leicester place marketing approach has created a massive step change in the working culture of the city stakeholders. That has helped position tourism and the visitor economy more strongly and embed it within the city's way of working. In addition:
- the MAA and One Leicester branding have separately and together achieved a more joined-up approach to strategy and delivery
- there is a stronger commitment to bring about change.
Related links: where to find out more
Go Leicestershire – Visitor website
ONE Leicester – official website
25 November 2015