Bid to keep coach visitors in Wells for longer

September 02 2017
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A CONCERTED effort is being made to encourage coach visitors to Wells to stay for longer – and therefore to spend more.

The City & Tourism Forum is working with Visit by Coach on a project to improve every aspect of group travel within Wells.

Key to the plan is persuading coach operators to drop off visitors to Wells at the bus station coach park instead of Sadler Street.

The coach park area is to be made more attractive and meet and greet teams will be on hand to welcome visitors.

“The aim of the project is to bring more groups to Wells and to make the stays longer,” said Visit by Coach director Ian Jefferies.

“In a survey carried out in 2016 by Visit by Coach, 83 per cent of passengers stated they wished their stay in Wells was longer. We are now working with group travel organisers and coach operators to ensure the passengers get what they want. From the city’s point of view, this is fantastic, as spend per head increases as the stay increases.”

Chamber of commerce chairman Robert Powell says dropping off and picking up passengers in Sadler Street means that many never venture down the High Street.

“They are losing the experience of Wells,” he said, adding that a loss of potential customers for shops and cafes was not good for the economic wellbeing of Wells either.

More planters are planned to make the coach park more visually appealing, and meet and greet team members, in ‘Welcome Crew’ tabards, will hand out maps and discount coupons. A pilot scheme should be in place in September, and fully operational by the time the new tourist season starts next year. Signs will also be altered to direct coaches primarily to the bus station – though the Sadler Street drop-off bay will still be available for disabled passengers or schoolchildren.

“The income generated from group visits helps the local economy in a big way,” said Ian.

“Even on a short two-hour visit the spend per head can be £15. A coach will have approximately 50 passengers. If we increase the stay time this spend grows and therefore so does the money into the economy.

“If we can encourage the visitors into all the shops, then we have a strong business centre to the city. A healthy business centre gives jobs to the locals, a vibrant city centre and raises the whole feelgood factor about the destination. How many city and town centres nowadays have multiple boarded up shops? We aim to assist in this not being the case in Wells.”

A city council spokesperson said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with local groups and Visit by Coach to facilitate progressing the project through council procedures.”

The meet and greet teams will be made up of people from various charities and volunteers. If anyone would like to spend a couple of hours a week welcoming visitors, contact Ian on 07903 463700 or email ian@visitbycoach.com