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First Base is the equivalent of an 'Editorial'. It is the opportunity for S & A to provide comment and provoke discussion on topical issues relating to leisure and tourism. This will be provided each month and we would welcome your feedback on the matters raised.

First Base 19: The need for champions, less studies and more action

Date: 20/5/2004

What makes the Eden project in Cornwall a great success and the National Botanic Garden of Wales a modest adventure?

Why does the Tate at St. Ives go from strength to strength whilst a Graham Sutherland gallery remains an illusive dream in Pembrokeshire? How can South Somerset develop a vibrant rural tourism product when many similar 'destinations' struggle?
After 25 years of observing, participating and working in tourism the answers to these three questions are crystal clear. The difference between success and, well it's not even failure in most cases because all too often nothing at all ever happens, is straight forward. The formula for success in tourism is quite simple. It is about having a vision; having a champion with the passion, commitment and nous to make things happen; and it's about doing it not prevaricating about the possibility of doing ... 'to be rather than to be seen to be' ... action not words.

All too often consultants reports are used as convenient barriers to hide behind. Projects are subjected to too many studies and scarce resources are spent in paralysis of analysis. We have recently declined to tender for a project in West Wales because it was a 'study too far'. The project is resulting in the seventh tourism strategy for a small rural area in as many years... approximately £150,000 of public money on studies - for goodness sake!
So are we shooting ourselves in the foot? Are we arguing against the need for consultants? Of course not! The need is for action orientated studies set within a strategic framework and founded upon a real vision... a vision to capture the imagination and capable of making a real difference. There really isn't time to wait in such a dynamic environment as tourism. "Precious time is slipping away".

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