A new campaign has been launched to encourage local people to support the South West’s leisure and tourism industry during the quieter autumn and winter months.
The accommodation and food service sector employs 271,000 people across the region, but many businesses have been hit hard by the devastating impact of lockdown, followed by the need to operate at reduced capacity and, more recently, limited opening hours.
Now the Share a Smile campaign aims to inspire locals to discover great places on their doorstep to visit, stay or eat out while following the rules and guidelines to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Social media users can support their favourite businesses by sharing recommendations on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag#ShareaSmileSW. Prizes will be up for grabs and a dedicated website will showcase the region’s best-loved destinations for local people to enjoy safely.
Share a Smile is the brainchild of accountants and business advisers PKF Francis Clark, who have teamed up with Bigwave marketing to launch the campaign. The initiative is backed by tourism organisations including Visit Exeter, Visit Cornwall and the Eden Project.
Tom Roach, a partner at PKF Francis Clark who specialises in advising leisure and tourism businesses, said: “In these trying times, we could all do with something to make us smile, whether it’s a meal out, a short break or just a walk on the beach.
“But many businesses and their staff who work tirelessly to bring smiles to our faces have endured a really tough year. The welcome reopening of tourism and hospitality in July has been successful for many businesses but in general has not made up for the trade lost during more than three months of lockdown, while operators have faced increased costs of making their premises Covid-secure, reduced capacity to enable social distancing and now limited opening hours.
“So now, as we approach the end of what has been a busy three months since lockdown, we want to encourage people across our region to show their support for local leisure and tourism businesses, which thousands of jobs depend on.”
Claire Toze, of Visit Exeter, said: “We are pleased to support the #ShareaSmileSW campaign. Now more than ever is the time to support our local tourism and hospitality businesses, as the industry has suffered a huge blow over the past six months. Businesses have been working hard to ensure they are as safe as possible to visit, and have looked forward to the day when they have been able to welcome visitors back.”
The Share a Smile campaign comes after a survey of South West residents found 94% believe the leisure and tourism sector is important to the local economy, while 84% think Covid-19 has had a severe or major impact on these local businesses.
The survey also found 54% think the Government should be doing more to support the leisure and tourism sector to protect jobs, while 34% thought it was doing enough.
Meanwhile, 53% said they feel confident, fairly confident or very confident to get out and about to visit leisure and tourism businesses this autumn and winter. And 76% backed the idea of a campaign to give local leisure and tourism businesses a boost.
Tom added: “Our survey found overwhelming support for the South West’s leisure and tourism sector and a widespread recognition that these businesses are under severe pressure due to Covid-19.
“It’s clear we are going to have to live with this virus for some time yet, and we understand that some people don’t currently feel comfortable doing the things we normally take for granted. At the same time, those of us who are confident to get out and about can make a massive difference by supporting much-loved local businesses through the quieter autumn and winter months. Of course, it’s essential that we all follow the Covid-secure rules and guidelines while doing this.”
Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, said: “We’re supporting the Share a Smile campaign because tourism is all about having fun and enjoying experiences that make life worth living. By sharing their smiles, everyone can play their part in showcasing our wonderful region and supporting tourism businesses this autumn and winter.”
David Harland, executive director of the Eden Project, said: “Never have we been more aware of the importance of tourism and leisure to the economy of Cornwall and the wider South West than in the midst of the pandemic. Supporting the Share a Smile campaign is a great way for everyone to get behind the sector in whatever positive way they can during these most challenging times.”
For more information, visit shareasmilesw.co.uk or follow @ShareaSmileSW.