Katie Cavanna: We have real opportunity to capitalise on staycation trend

Fairy Cove, Paignton, is among Torbay’'s 16 square miles of coastline and beaches

Fairy Cove, Paignton, is among Torbay’'s 16 square miles of coastline and beaches - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I have been lucky enough to meet some fantastic people since setting up RE4orm.

One of these is Charlie Brunyate. Born and educated in Torbay, Charlie has recently moved back to Torbay from London – equipped with a wealth of knowledge, expertise and passion.

Charlie has set up Storm Digital with Joe Venton, who was also born in Torbay, and they are ready to take Torbay by storm!

Like many of us in Torbay, Charlie is keen to see Torbay develop and reach its full potential. Charlie was kind enough to share his thoughts with me for my article this week.

During the Covid crisis, we’ve seen bluer skies, better weather and more wildlife under lockdown, which is in part due to our decreased transport use but has ultimately increased our overall appreciation of our Bay, enabling us to notice the natural world we’re lucky enough to have on our doorstep.

For Torbay to not only survive but thrive, we must look to the future and move Torbay beyond the Victorian era of its heyday, but build upon what made this such a successful period.

As a tourism hub for the UK, we are all aware of Torbay’s USPs - such as our 16 square miles of coastline and beaches, which we need to both protect and emphasise, in a sustainable manner for our future.

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We must look to the positive and create a plan for 2021 and beyond, using a vision such as our example, ensuring everyone buys into Torbay’s development, not only for tourists, but also for those who call Torbay home.

The 25-44 age bracket is most likely to see the UK as their main holiday destination, so developing suitable offerings is essential - experience-driven tourism is one key facet for millennials for example, with music, food and art festivals being core to their considerations.

If we can provide this type of activity, the subsequent generated income will help Torbay fund future offerings for all.

In working together to develop these opportunities across the built environment, we can bring in revenue to maximise the potential of our natural environment.

With walking, hiking and cycling easily accessible on land and swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking and coasteering in the water - we are well placed for sustainable outdoor activities before we consider our world-class boating proposition.

However, taking a sustainable example, by improving our marketing and communication as a UNESCO Global Geopark - with more information physically located around the Bay and more widely online - we can educate locals and visitors alike to take in pride in the area and position Torbay as eco-tourism hub, targeting new markets, supporting our existing local attractions and promoting industry - particularly as a seafood destination, with Brixham being one of the biggest ports in England, creating a better proposition for our region than previously.

This localisation is going to be core to drive the future of tourism future across the UK, with Torbay a prime example of this.

By coupling tourism with sustainability - ensuring we care for and conserve our environment in this sense - we have a real opportunity to capitalise on the staycation trend now foreign travel looks diminished for the foreseeable future.

Innovative ideas are going to play a key role in driving profitability, even more so if it has purpose - for example, improve or build partnerships with regional groups such as Surfers Against Sewage or the Marine Conservation Society for locals and tourists engage in, promote and safeguard marine life and reduce local pollution.

Though largely viewed through the lens of tourism and sustainability, there is enough scope in the above to show how we can position ourselves to benefit from what our region has to offer, capitalising on considerate development of our towns and sustainable promotion of our environment, to ensure there is enough growth to support Torbay and hopefully, we can all help create an English Riviera for the future.