Tourism chief's alert on visitors


Isle of Wight County Press January 24, 2014

The Island must not inadvertently hit the self-destruct button in the pursuit of better ferry services, a tourism chief has warned. As a major campaign is launched to promote plans to move Wightlink into the ownership of a community interest company (CIC), David Thornton, chief executive of Visit Isle of Wight (VIOW), speaking in a personal capacity, urged caution in the use of social media to broadcast its message.

He was referring to a video posted online by the IW Better Ferry Campaign, in which several high-profile Islanders, including Level 42 frontman and tourism ambassador Mark King, talk about ferry fares and cuts to services. Mr Thornton said they were now in talks with the Better Ferry team to see if they could help them in getting their message across without putting off potential visitors.

Later, in his professional capacity, he said:“The video viewed out of context, does not present travelling to the Island as an appealing prospect, and this is my concern, especially during this very important early booking part of the holiday season. My number one priority is to ensure, despite all challenges, the Island presents a welcoming and attractive image to potential visitors across the globe.”

However, Patrick Seely, from the campaign, said the Island would be damaged far more if they did nothing. “Sometimes it is necessary to take short-term pain to gain a long-term reward and to have the courage to say so,” he said.

VIOW is part-funded by private backers, including Wightlink and Red Funnel.

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