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Isle of Wight 'should embrace difference'

Fri 7 Dec 2012

Isle of Wight 'should embrace difference'

Following the launch of the Isle of Wight's new tourism campaign aimed at attracting further investment and driving up visitor numbers to the area, Visit Isle of Wight chief executive David Thornton has stressed the importance of differentiating it from the nearby mainland.

Talking to the Isle of Wight County Press, Mr Thornton indicated that the links it has with the UK are important, but also claimed that the best way for the area to market itself is to stress that it has its own culture and heritage for visitors to enjoy.

"I don't really want to be a great British island, I want to be something different to England but connected and close by," he explained.

Although visitors numbers dropped by six per cent over the course of 2012, the Isle of Wight's economy is still bolstered by tourism, which accounts for roughly a quarter of the island's £1.7 billion economy.

Despite Mr Thornton's desire to separate the area from England, he is also keen to stress the historic connection with the mainland and the Isle of Wight's traditional role as a way to escape the stresses of everyday life.

"I'd like us to recapture that simple, powerful unique selling point - this holiday is a genuine tonic offering a relaxed welcome to all those who wish to escape the mainland," he suggested.

Furthermore, he declared that the Isle of Wight should reclaim the title of the English Riviera from south coast towns such as Torquay.

His comments were underlined by Michelin-starred chef Robert Thompson, who has been named an ambassador for the Island.

He told the newspaper the island needs to shake off its "blue-rinse" image as a holiday destination for the elderly and try to attract a younger demographic.

Festivals such as Bestival are crucial when it comes to changing the way the Isle of Wight is perceived by prospective visitors, concluded Mr Thompson.

The popular event was recently named festival of the year for 2012.ADNFCR-3083-ID-801502799-ADNFCR

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