“What have the Romans ever done for us?”. The Isle of Man is the one place in Britain where the accurate answer to that question is “nothing”. The Romans never settled on the island, but the Vikings did and stayed for a very long time. The Isle has a rich Viking heritage, some of which is still evident today from local place names, to the island’s Viking sheep with their four horns. And famously the Tynwald – the Isle of Man government – which gets its name and structure from the Viking parliament and claims to be the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world.
But the Viking heritage of the island isn’t well known and the opportunities for visitors to experience the Viking stories are limited. That’s where we come in. The Isle of Man Department of Enterprise has asked us to look at the scale and nature of the tourism growth potential. Could the Viking theme attract new visitors to the Isle of Man, and if so, for what type of experiences and who might be interested? Or is developing the Viking theme all about encouraging existing visitors to stay a little longer? And importantly, what can we learn from what is being done elsewhere in Europe and how might the Isle of Man offer something distinctively different? Over the next couple of months, we’ll be answering these questions and advising on what type of investments the island needs to make to realise the potential.