4 March 2009

The Only Way is Up For Tourism in North West England

It has been all hands to the deck over the past couple of days with the monthly delivery of What’s On in Chester & Cheshire to hotels, attractions and other leisure facilities in the City and surrounding area. The glossy A4 magazine is a free guide to eating, drinking, shopping and entertainment in the area – although it will be downsizing to a “chic and petite publication” next month with a “dynamic and vibrant new look”. It is also getting a bigger print run because - according to editor, Gerald A. Tattum - Chester City Council, “just can’t keep pace with the demand” for this popular life-style guide.

According to Superbreak: “Figures show that provincial UK cities and resorts are performing well with bookings through agents in January up 14% year on year…” Indeed, the operator predicts that more than 65,000 people will book short breaks through agents for the two week Easter period and fully expects more people to holiday at home this Easter as apposed to visiting euro zone countries. In addition, Easter falls later this year giving spring a chance to set in properly, which could be excellent news for companies offering short breaks “within two and a half hours drive from home”. If so, this will no doubt have a very positive knock-on effect for tourism and leisure facilities throughout Britain.

One of our longest-standing clients, Chester Zoo has recently unveiled an ambitious £225 million plan that will see it transformed into the largest conservation, animal and leisure attraction of its kind in Europe. The project – given the working title Natural Vision – will involve a £90 million first phase which will include the only domed ecosystem in the UK. Called ‘Heart of Africa’, the bio-dome will be an African rainforest-themed sanctuary for a band of Gorillas, a large troop of chimpanzees, Okapi (rare giraffe-like creatures), and a wide variety of tropical birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes and invertebrates, moving freely among lush vegetation. The first phase – planning permission for which will be sought later this year – will also include a 90-bed hotel, a Conservation College, a key element of which is the ‘Futures’ education centre, and a revamped main entrance linking to a marina development on zoo land beside the Shropshire Union Canal. All we can say is: “Way to go, Chester Zoo!”

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