Isles of Scilly – a blueprint for the future of tourism

A photo of a small sailing boat sailing off the Scilly Isles

OK. We admit it. It was love at first sight. A cluster of bright green islands around a turquoise lagoon in the Atlantic Ocean, 28 miles off Land’s End, first glimpsed from the tiny plane that flew us out to Scilly for the job interview. Like nowhere else in England.

Tourism is vital for Scilly.  They reckon more than 70% of the population works in tourism – and 100% depend on it to sustain their way of life.  Yet it’s a fragile and special environment that could easily be spoilt by mass tourism.

Visitor numbers have been dropping for some years.  They asked us to do a root-and-branch study into what was happening, and to develop a plan for a sustainable future.

We gave everyone who lives and works on Scilly the chance to get involved.  We had to find out what current visitors think.  And we had to find out what might convince others to try Scilly for the first time.

So there were lots of meetings, local consultation and market research.  Lots of exploring too: boat trips between islands.  Helicopter flights from Land’s End.  Ferry trips from Penzance.  Nights on sleeper trains.   We got immersed, and some of us got hooked.

The new tourism organisation we recommended has now been set up, and is putting into practice our Blueprint for the Future of Tourism.

And we’ve been back out there a couple of times as things take shape.  Not often enough for some of us …

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