For English Tourism Week 2021, Valentina Tachy, Bicester Village & City Sightseeing Manager at Oxford Bus Company, writes about the vital role of bus in the tourism recovery, and her excitement for the future.
English Tourism Week is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the fantastic attractions people can enjoy across the country.
This year it is more important than ever, as we seek to bounce back from COVID-19 and reignite the economy. Tourism plays a significant role in supporting the wider economy. In Oxford, the visitor economy is critical to both the city and county. Pre-pandemic it was booming and according to a recent Experience Oxfordshire report tourism generated about £998m for the city’s economy and accounted for some 17,000 jobs in Oxford.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the sector. But there is now a real determination to recover and attract people back to our beautiful city. Buses will play a big role in the recovery and re-connecting people and safeguarding the economic future of towns and cities. And it is why Oxford Bus Company has created a new tourism management team, which I am proud to be a part of along with Jane Marshall and Clarisse Garcia.
Our focus is on developing partnerships with key visitor attractions, marketing what Oxford has to offer and delivering a world-class welcome. City Sightseeing Oxford, our fleet of open-top bus tours are an integral part of our tourism sector. It is an ideal way for visitors to explore the city and we offer audio guides in 14 languages. It takes in the city’s famous sights including Oxford Castle, Christ Church College, Magdalen Bridge, Sheldonian Theatre and Ashmolean Theatre.
We have also just partnered with a city centre walking tour to offer combined tickets. Additionally, we operate the Carfax Tower and a Visitor Information Point in the High Street. This enables us to provide visitors with information, timetables, souvenirs, maps, travel and attractions combo tickets and advice to get the best of their visit.
Our City bus network provides tourists with connectivity between the rail station, bus routes and links the city to attractions around the county. We have an excellent relationship with Blenheim Palace and Bicester Village and provide services to both venues.
A big part of our marketing campaign this summer will be on encouraging people to enjoy domestic day trips and for local people to explore Oxford and rediscover their home city all over again as we emerge from the pandemic. This is important with international travel still severely curtailed.
We work closely with partners including Experience Oxfordshire, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, VisitEngland and multiple attractions. As we reach stage 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown on June 21st, we are preparing to increase the frequency of the tour to meet higher demand.
I am excited about overseeing management and engagement of drivers for City Sightseeing Oxford. As the designated Transport Manager, I will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the tour making sure we operate in line with the Government's and the Traffic Commissioner's guidelines. I am also excited about delivering exceptional customer service and the opportunity to reconnect people with Oxford's history. Welcoming visitors to our city is a great privilege and we are proud to be playing an active part in reviving the tourism industry.