Local Distinctiveness Project

Today’s visitors are changing. There’s growing interest in all things “local”. Visitors want to understand more, to experience places in different ways and to meet “real” people. They are ready to buy locally made products. They want to “do” as well as see. Visitors are interested in anything that helps them understand and appreciate the essential character of a place and enjoy being able to tell a story about something they’ve seen or heard when they get back from their trip. The South Pennines offers enormous diversity and the project has aimed to uncover the local distinctiveness of the area, working with businesses to find new opportunities and innovative ways for visitors to enjoy the area. The goal has been to attract more visitors, encourage visitors to stay longer and ensure that all visitors spend more.
The project has four main elements;

1. The project focuses on working with small businesses to promote the South Pennines as a product using;

• Bespoke marketing materials – images and text about the South Pennines and guidance through the Local Distinctiveness Handbook
• “Made in the South Pennines” as a marketing tool
• Creation of “South Pennine” products – business influence and being a sounding board for new ideas
• Creation of South Pennine networks of businesses;
• Here for the Beer links all local micro-breweries and pubs that are outlets for the products into one tourism “package” on the web
• The Making & Doing Festival linked creative businesses (artists, craftspeople and designer-makers), identifying new routes to markets and undertaking South Pennine wide promotion for tourism/business purposes through the Festival as detailed here

2. The project has also offered bespoke training opportunities for a network of small tourism businesses through focused workshops, on-line resources (business-facing section on the South Pennines website business-facing section on the South Pennines website ) and through one-to-one training on issues such as social media. This business network currently has 354 members.
3. The project also focuses on the identification and promotion of the tourism product that is “The South Pennines”. It has a visitor-facing website which has experienced over 12,062 hits since its launch June 2013. The website features guest blogs from businesses at regular intervals. The area also now has an illustrated map (a priority request from feedback sessions with Tourist Information Centres) which in itself has become a saleable product and is interactive for visitors to the website.
4. The project worked with Calderdale Council to revamp one of the Visitor Centres in the South Pennines as an exemplar project. The centre in Hebden Bridge has now become a centre selling and promoting locally distinctive products and has already experienced a 100% increase in turnover in 3/4 s of a trading year as a result. The centre now works with 20 businesses (up from 6) and is experiencing increasing proactive demand from businesses for involvement in the project.
The project has achieved much over 2 years with 0.7 FTE staff. There is huge potential to do more, building on many of the piloted ideas e.g. visitor giving, “made in the South Pennines” etc.