Plymouth Devon Travel

Plymouth Travel

Destination Plymouth Plan – Plymouth 2020

barbican

It seems as though Plymouth is long overdue growth and some much needed investment. However, one wonders if it helps bringing in a Chief Executive for ‘Destination Plymouth’ who has no historical connection with the city and thus has not seen the mistakes made in the 400th year celebrations in 1988, when the Queen visited Plymouth to open up the sun-dial. The next 400th year anniversary arrives in 2020 and many of the same plans seem to be in the pipeline. Without thinking about the errors of the past, when this celebration provided no long term benefits, Amanda Lumley, who who is now in charge, looks likely to repeat many of the same oversights. To help the Destination Plymouth 2020 team, they might want to read the following!

Directional Signage

Consideration might in the future want to be given to redesign of the wayfinding system to brand Plymouth in line with the ‘Ocean City’ theme, i.e. sea blue background with white lettering. The present new system uses directional signage, which allows for no differentiation from other cities across the UK, cities with whom Plymouth must compete. The present system misses out on re-enforcing the ocean theme and maritime nature of Plymouth. It seems a missed opportunity in terms of branding the city.

Lessons from the Past

In 1988, a a very significant amount of money was spent on the celebrations for the the 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Improvements were made in the city and several new attractions were built including the Plymouth Dome and the sun-dial in the centre (which was opened by the queen). The huge spending for these celebrations did nothing for the city in the longer term and the past in this respect, surely deserves researching. The failures at that time of the Plymouth Dome (a very similar project to what once again is being proposed for a 400th anniversary in Plymouth and based on the city’s history – this time the new history centre – deja vu?). The dome has struggled every since its opening to survive and ended up as a restaurant). Are the same costly mistakes about to be made again? Similarly, a new wayfinding signage system in 1988 was introduced – see here for the sun-dial issues (excuse the image quality). Can lessons be learned to inform the present process and be in a new report? My conversations to date with Amanda Lumley suggest not.

Disconnect

There are specific areas in the city centre which are vital throgh ways but which are disconnected at this time. Three key areas are:

  • The end of Hoegate Street to Derry’s Cross/Bretonside.
  • Union Street (which until improved and turned into a cultural, more upmarket area, will always be a problem and let the centre down).
  • Plymouth train station to the city centre. It is not the most inspiring arrival and walk for new visitors.

This issue will be addressed it looks, if the new planned Mayflower Coach and bus station goes ahead.

Budgets/Cost effective

There are many untapped and cost effective additions that can be made to improve Plymouth and which one would maybe expect should already exist such as:

  • Where are the organised Beryl Cook tours?
  • Where is the hop on hop off tour (Cardiff have now introduced it and even Catania, Sicily, the slowest city to ever embrace tourism changes have introduced these services). In the summer time they should be self-sustainable.
  • Walk of stars, Hollywood style leading up the Hoe (Tom Daley, Trevor Francis, Dawn French, Sharon Davis, Angela Rippon etc.) Telling a story and giving tourist a photo opportunity and very cost effective.
  • Organised walking tours (in the summer using students as guides).
  • Where is the historical trail leaflet/literature?

The city has a significant budget in place for the 2020 celebrations, yet even very cost effective tours, which could create a very positive visitor experience, have been ignored for decades, and continue to be even now.

Transport Connection

I suspect this is already being done but where are the direct links between Plymouth and Exeter and Bristol airports DIRECTLY? Plymouth is not easy to get to at the moment. Greyhound coaches, for example, are connecting between South Wales (Swansea, Cardiff and Newport) and Bristol and seem to want to expand further. When will Plymouth move away from being such as disconnected location?

History

Is the bowling club on the Hoe central to redevelopments in the city and a focus on the celebrations? It is a key attraction for potential U.S. visitors. Where is the understanding of the history of the city?

Research

What research has been done in USA and to ask visitors already on holiday in a city such as London of their impression of Plymouth, if they will visit etc. What in-depth research has been done to find out what people actually think of and imagine Plymouth to be?

Digital Provision

It is NOT easy to find information on the official sites in Plymouth to get travel information. The ‘Visit Plymouth’ website, I suspect, is the answer to this, although the site seems badly maintained information wise.

Branding

Too late to change I am sure, but having lived 3 years in Virginia Beach, USA, relatively close to both Ocean Cities i.e. New Jersey and Maryland, I realise how incredibly strong their images are as key summer beach locations. Instead of England’s Ocean City (and we are not on an ocean) I would have chosen to give Plymouth its own individual world brand as the World’s Marine Capital, rather than England’s Ocean City and turning Plymouth into a centre for marine education, studies, research and knowledge (which I expect is a part of the plan anyway).

Food City

Certainly possible, but where is the food trail? Fish and chip festival/competition? You may or may not be aware, but Plymouth had an absolutely amazing fish market on the Barbican but it closed down and is now the large souvenir shop on the main Barbican, next to the glass blowing shop. Ironically, we are going full circle also with this now with the ocean city food festival. There seems though (maybe I am wrong) no real good quality fish restaurants where people can eat fresh fish (aside from fish and chips). Many Italians and Spanish people visit Plymouth and with my Sicilian wife we have looked for a good fish restaurant in the Barbican in the past unsuccessfully. This void is clear also from http://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/eating-out/by-area/the-barbican and menus which end up as burger and chip eateries, such as when viewing http://www.capn-jaspers.co.uk/menu. For a coastal city looking to get high visitor income, the options are quite poor at the moment (if seen from a non-British point of view).

Photography

Plymouth is a unique venue for photography, given the incredible mix of coastal, sea and urban views. Where is photography emphasised or pushed as a holiday option?

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