The Moors & More project focuses on local distinctiveness and the sense of place to be found in this wonderful area.
What does this mean? Local distinctiveness is what makes one place different from another. It’s the essential details, large and small, natural and manmade which combine to create a “sense of place”.
Local distinctiveness means looking at the small details that are easy to miss but which we love once we notice them. Major landmarks and famous sights can mark one place out against another. But it's not just big features that are important. Our impressions are formed through other aspects of an area’s character. They include:
• natural features such as the landscape, flora, fauna • man-made features like buildings • heritage, culture, traditions – people, events, festivals • produce and industry – food, drink, crafts, farming, textiles • words, dialect, local sayings, jokes and quirky anecdotes
Why local distinctiveness is important to visitors
Today’s visitors are changing. There’s growing interest in all things “local”. Visitors want to understand more, to experience places in different ways and to meet "real" people. They are ready to buy locally made products. They want to do as well as see.
Visitors are interested in anything that helps them understand and appreciate the essential character of a place. Like most of us, visitors enjoy being able to tell a story about something they’ve seen or heard when they get back from their trip.
How local distinctiveness can benefit your business
How can you get visitors to stay longer and spend more? If we only tell them about the “highlights” of a place, visitors will continue to rush around, without staying for long. If they only visit a market town for a short while, they won’t have time to get hungry and spend money in a cafe or pub. They may not bother buying anything in the shops. They probably won’t need to stay in local accommodation.
We need to slow visitors down, to help them see the undiscovered gems: the places that are special but often hidden or not so obvious. If we give visitors a different experience, they’ll be more likely to stay longer and spend more. They will recommend the area to others. And as we all know, word of mouth is the most powerful – and cheapest – form of promotion.
What happens next?
We’ve run a series of workshops in different parts of the North York Moors area. At each of these workshops, we asked participants to think about the sense of place in their area. We’re now collecting further anecdotes, images, videos, lists, and ideas about what makes one place different from others.
We'll shortly share this information with you, and we'll publish a very practical toolkit filled with ideas for how you can use local distinctiveness in your business.
In early 2013, we'll then start to work with a number of tourism business owners to find new ways for visitors to experience the North York Moors, to create new and different packages and ways to generate more revenue from visitors.
Image credits: thanks to Tessa Bunney for Ampleforth Abbey Cider; Richard Burdon for Saltburn Pier; City of Troy Maze; Staithes; Fauconberg Arms at Coxwold
The North York Moors Tourism Network is managed on a voluntary basis by Susan Briggs, Director of The Tourism Network Ltd, supported by Catriona McLees at North York Moors National Park Authority. Click here for more information