If we look for the few positives of the last two years, one of them might be that we have all spent more time being a local tourist and got to know and appreciate our area better.

Recently we were celebrating English Tourism Week from Friday 18 to Sunday 27 March. This year’s theme was ‘You’re Welcome’ welcoming visitors back to tourist attractions across the country. We took the opportunity to celebrate some of the many tourist attractions across the Wychavon district. To take a look at these check out our Facebook page.

Tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries, supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, employing about 2.6 million people and, in 2019, generating £76 billion in domestic visitor spending (Visit England). The wealth of tourist attractions that we have across the district are now gearing up for what will hopefully be a busy summer. We want to also recognise how much the visitor economy contributes as an employment sector.  We asked some of the young people working in this industry across the district to get their perspective on what a career in this industry means for them.

Local young people starting a career in tourism

Gareth, 21, recently started working as a Marketing Assistant at All Things Wild A year-round family attraction, zoo and nature centre in Honeybourne, near Evesham.

Gareth explained to us that he found playing a part in this growing tourism business extremely rewarding.

‘I love animals and really appreciate All Things Wild’s approach to conservation and education’

‘There’s never a dull moment at All Things Wild! I’m kept busy and love that I’m working somewhere that involves animals, cares about the environment and educating children.’

We asked Gareth what he would like to see to support more young people to start careers in tourism ‘I’d love to see more apprenticeships for school leavers – I initially started my career after sixth form with an apprenticeship and this helped me get settled quickly’.

Ross, 22, started off volunteering at the Almonry Museum and Tourist Information Centre before recently being employed. Ross has always been interested in local history and feels that his new role is the perfect opportunity to talk to people about it.

He told us that he loves how varied his roles is ‘helping people with enquiries about places, people, food, drink, history, to working with local schools doing a project about WW2 in the Vale or a detectorist finding a hoard of Roman pottery’.

Ross graduated from university in 2020 so ‘slipped through the cracks during the start of the pandemic’ with regard to starting his career. The advice he had for other young people looking to start a career in tourism was ‘be prepared for anything and take it in stride’ and ‘don’t be afraid to put yourself or your ideas out there’.

Ross told us that particularly working in heritage it can be difficult for younger voices to be heard as older people with more experience may not see the value in suggestions of new ways of doing things. He felt that this can ‘perpetuate stereotypes of tourism and heritage as an old and stuffy workplace’ which it wouldn’t be if enough young people are given the opportunity to contribute. He also said that places shouldn’t be afraid of change.

Marie-Ann, 24, studied Travel and Tourism at college before going on to study Events Management at the University of Gloucestershire. She is currently on her placement year in the Regeneration Team at Wychavon District Council as a Tourism and Regeneration Assistant and also volunteering at Broadway Tourist Information Centre.

Within these two roles Marie Ann enjoys meeting new people, hearing about their stories, planning upcoming events and supporting local businesses.

Marie-Ann told us that she thinks that there could be more job opportunities for young people in this sector and that businesses and organisations could forge more links with local universities both as potential audiences but also employees.

We also spoke with a Manager at the Regal Cinema in Evesham who explained

‘We have always employed lots of young people here at the Regal and in many cases supported them through college, university and further degrees through work experience and bursaries.  We love their energy, their commitment and their sense of fun!’

A member of the Regal team added,

I joined the Regal in sixth form, worked through my gap year between travelling and came back most holidays during my degree.  It’s great to work with such a friendly team and lovely customers.  I’ve also learned a lot about the film industry which I hope to use in my future career.’

Support to start a career in tourism

In the Visit England press release Nigel Huddleston, Tourism Minister and Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire said,

‘English Tourism Week celebrates the enormous contribution our brilliant tourism sector makes to the economy and I’m looking forward to supporting this year’s events.’ 

‘I encourage people to explore the huge range of opportunities available – from finding a new and rewarding career to exploring the exciting range of experiences, events and destinations on offer.’

Wychavon District Council actively supports the tourism sector across the district including the facilitation and help to a number of significant events in the district, enticing thousands of visitors to the area every year. In addition, through Worcestershire’s Vale & Spa, numerous campaigns are run focusing on drawing attention to the wonderful assets and businesses that are available to explore.

The council also promotes apprenticeships as a career route and offers support for businesses who would like to take on an apprentice and training cost support for apprentices.

Young people are seen as an integral voice in helping to develop the distinct identity of the district as a great destination to live, work and visit. A career in tourism or working at any of the brilliant attractions there are in the district is a great opportunity to develop skills and to help promote that the area has something to offer all ages. We are keen to hear from young people about their ideas for how the beauty and history of the area could be reimagined for younger audiences.

Show us what you love about your area by using the hashtag #valeandspa or getting in touch on our Facebook page.