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Visitor Giving - what does it mean?
Here at Nurture Lakeland we’re so used to using the term Visitor Giving that we sometimes forget that it’s not a universally understood term (yet!). In advance of our Visitor Giving Forum 2012, a forum designed to give delegates a comprehensive and actionable insight into Visitor Giving, we need to ensure people understand the term. So, just in case you’re not entirely sure what Visitor Giving is all about – this blog post is for you.
I’m just back from a short break on the stunning Pembrokeshire coast. One of our 15 National Parks, this outstanding area is a jewel of sparkling turquoise seas, mind-blowing geology and amazingly diverse wildlife - from baby-eyed seal pups to gaudy-billed puffins and every manner of flora and fauna in-between. Best of all (can it really have been true?) - the sun shone!
Well, you can probably tell, I’m feeling quite loved-up with the place right now. We stayed in a charming guest house and I was overwhelmed with affection for the natural wonders of the area. If my hosts had said on checking out, “We hope you’ve had a great time. Just to let you know, we add an additional £1 to your bill to look after our national coastal trail / artic choughs / local beach" (whatever – anything would have pressed the right button for me by then!) I’d have more than happily given a small donation and left with a warm and fuzzy feeling, fulfilled with the knowledge that I’d done something great for a place I’d loved visiting.
And that, in essence, is what Visitor Giving is all about.
It’s about giving visitors the opportunity to give a little something back to looking after the places they love. It’s a way of tapping in to that natural desire to help. It’s a mechanism for collecting those small contributions which, collectively, add up to something really quite significant. And it’s a fantastic opportunity to find the vital funding our environments and landscapes need for the future.
Visitor Giving works across many forms of tourism. Browsing the leaflet-loaded shelves in the local tourist information centre my eyes alighted on a pamphlet promoting Pembroke Castle, a Visitor Giving comrade, advertising a ‘Gift Aid Admission Price’ which is 10% more than the standard price (between 50p and £2 depending on whether it was an individual or family ticket).
It meant that I could help this wonderful, historic edifice be properly and lovingly looked after and the government would refund 25p per pound. I didn’t have to pay it. It was my choice. But the point of Visitor Giving is that most people do pay it. Because to them, at that time, in that place, it absolutely makes sense.
My guest house in Pembrokeshire didn’t offer Visitor Giving, but here in the Lake District and Cumbria, we have a long established Visitor Giving scheme, where lots of businesses do offer their customers the chance to make that donation. And it really works. To date, Visitor Giving businesses and their customers have raised over £2 million to protect the landscape, wildlife and heritage of our county, supporting over 50 diverse projects.
The same story could be happening across all our UK National Parks and protected landscapes. That’s why we’re inviting tourism and conservation professionals alike to join us at the Visitor Giving Forum 2012 (Oct 17th & 18th) to learn the art of running Visitor Giving and to develop a national, Visitor Giving network. It’s not a one-size-fits-all type of scheme. It’s clever, flexible, inventive and multifaceted so make sure you book your place today to benefit from our experience and understand how Visitor Giving can work in your destination.