BACK IN BUSINESS…
With shops, bars and restaurants opening up safely and a series of incentives and strategies to get towns and villages up and running, the Ribble Valley is back in business
The Ribble Valley is coming back to life and, where better to enjoy the great outdoors, local culture, first class shopping experiences, eating out and some of the best local produce in the UK.
There is a renewed optimism as local businesses, along with shops, pubs and restaurants, are safely opening up, enthusiastically welcoming back visitors.
In a confident collaboration, Ribble Valley Borough Council (RVBC) and Ribble Valley Tourism Association (RVTA) have together drawn up a unique action plan to help businesses and tourism flourish.
Championing all that is good about the Ribble Valley, the plan is designed to create strategies to restore the visitor economy and maximise opportunities.
Many local businesses have been incredibly enterprising providing alternative services in order to generate income when lockdown forced them to close.
They have supported their communities and key workers, offered take-away services, donated to food banks and made rooms available for quarantine purposes.
There have been some amazing examples of innovation with businesses keeping in touch with customers using social media and virtual events. Similarly, many operators have refurbished and refreshed their businesses and developed new skills.
There is nothing but positivity and a renewed consumer confidence.
As one of Lancashire’s strongest tourism brands, it is thought the Ribble Valley visitor economy will see a robust bounce-back with predictions that domestic tourism will boom, with a strong trend towards rediscovering the countryside and experiencing local culture and food.
The strategic recovery plan states: “The food offering is particularly distinctive to Ribble Valley, and it should feature more significantly in tourism promotion.”
The strategy also lists a number of campaigns to ensure economic recovery is swift with exciting new experiences and itineraries to attract visitors to the Valley which will have a direct economic benefit to local businesses.
These include more self-guided walks with safe dining experiences, a re-launch of the Ribble Valley Food Trail along with the potential of holding a week-long Valley-wide series of food and walking experiences, which is currently under consideration.
Along with #LoveRibbleValley there will also be campaigns to support Love the Great Outdoors, Love Food and Drink, Love Picnics as well as Love Our Business, which will celebrate individual businesses, as well as Love Meetings promoting safe and welcoming venues and Love Weddings supporting the Ribble Valley as a safe wedding destination.
“The Ribble Valley is an incredibly special place, alive with innovation and home to many entrepreneurs. Tourism and hospitality businesses have recovered from difficult times before, and changing the way we operate, being creative and working together, it can recover again,” explains Amanda Dowson, Chairman of Ribble Valley Tourism Association.
Before opening their doors, around 250 Ribble Valley high street retailers received letters from the council asking when and how they intended to re-open as the first step in getting the region back to business. The council received £53,771 from the government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, to help install a range of safety measures, such as signage, street markings and new routes for traffic.
The government announcement that face coverings are now mandatory for shoppers, has also been welcomed as an extra safety measure.
The government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme has also been widely welcomed by the Ribble Valley’s hospitality leaders. The scheme will see diners enjoying a £10 discount per person when eating out in cafes, pubs and restaurants.
Sarah Brookfield-Almond, MD of James’ Places said they had registered a considerable number of their establishments with the scheme, including the bistro and beer hall at Holmes Mill: “It has been fantastic to see so many people back out supporting their local pubs, restaurants and cafes, safely.
We have managed to re-open the majority of our businesses in the Ribble Valley and intend to keep extending the offer and opening hours as demand grows.”