Region must battle for slice of the tourism pie

The demise of VisitDevon will bring ‘new pressures’ to the industry, says MP.

NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey said the local tourism industry needs to do all it can to ensure that the region doesn’t lose out to other counties following the demise of VisitDevon.

The body which promotes tourism in Devon was axed by Devon County Council last month because of a lack of money.

Mr Harvey said that tourism, which accounts for nearly 10 per cent of the county’s economy, was one of the major drivers in getting the local economy back on track.

Mr Harvey met with staff at Braunton-based Marsdens Cottage Holidays and sister company Completely Cottages, to get an idea of the problems that the industry faces, as well as some of the opportunities for the future.

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He said: “The demise of VisitDevon will undoubtedly bring new pressures to the industry and it is important that we do all we can to ensure that Devon doesn’t lose out to other counties or regions with more support in promoting their attractions or a larger budget for publicity.”

Family-run Marsdens looks after a total of 700 properties in North Devon and employs 20 full-time people, plus 200 housekeepers and 100 tradesmen.

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Mr Harvey welcomed the companies’ efforts to promote North Devon.

He said: “I am always impressed with the hard work these small, rural businesses do and I will do all I can to support them as well as champion North Devon as the place to come for holidays.

“It’s heartening to see that many people holidaying in North Devon rather than jetting off abroad. Tourism is especially important, and will be one of the major drivers in getting our local economy back on track.”

Martin Wickham, general manager of Marsdens Cottage Holidays, said: “As one of the top providers of quality accommodation for visitors to North Devon we are well aware of the economic benefits our business provides and it’s great that Nick was keen to talk about how he can support our business and the North Devon tourism sector in general.

“All our staff are local and we want to continue to grow and contribute to the local economy.”

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