TIME TO THINK ABOUT TOURISM
Yes, this might be a strange headline when lots of tourism activity relies on attractions being open and events taking place – and in the Covid-19 world it’s a challenge to say the least.
But a handful of attractions did open post-lockdown and events, be it smaller scale, have taken place. It’s proof that we’re resilient and us human beings will always find a way when adversity stares us in the face.
None of us can predict what 2021 will bring but I’m a firm believer in never giving up and planning where possible until such time when we’re told by the powers that be that we need to adjust those best laid plans.
It means we need to think outside the box, adapt, be flexible, stay open-minded and be prepared to diversify. This is the mentality the city’s leisure, heritage and events calendar need to embrace.
However, the challenge they face is that Peterborough hasn’t had a dedicated tourism focus for a number of years and Covid-19 is threatening to push it into oblivion.
In recent years I’ve attended tourism forums, visitor economy focus groups, committees and anything else you want to call them. A reoccurring theme almost always emerges from them, which is lots of organisations are working towards a better Peterborough for visitors and residents alike, but none of it is joined up.
I’d hear moans, groans and general frustrations about the city not having a destination identity apart from a cracking cathedral, a passport office and a load of betting shops where independent retailers should be.
Tourism isn’t a statutory deliverable for the local authority and our city council would currently argue they have bigger challenges to overcome, as Covid-19 continues to stretch the Town Hall’s already fraying purse strings.
So, in 2021 I’d like to see the likes of Opportunity Peterborough, Peterborough Positive (the new business improvement district for the city centre) and City College Peterborough and Peterborough Limited (both delivering the previous responsibilities of Vivacity) all work together towards a common goal of creating and delivering, with sustainable outcomes, a destination management plan for the city, which is spearheaded by a good old-fashioned tourist information hub.
But nothing will properly materialise or deliver its potential without investment and by that, I mean allocating funding and identifying people who pull their sleeves up and have a track record of achieving.
Up until this year we used to have a Visitor Information Centre on Bridge Street. And because of a lack of investment in tourism, footfall in the shop wasn’t particularly high and the website that supported the service wasn’t particularly fantastic.
But the team that worked in the shop were bursting with local knowledge and enthusiasm. The shop closed after Christmas and a reincarnation of it has been launched online in the form of www.peterboroughgiftshop.com
It’s been set up to raise the city’s profile alongside the Visit Peterborough website, www.visitpeterborough.com and it’s an outlet for artists and other creative individuals to showcase their work, as well as serving as the essential go to shop for Peterborough-branded souvenirs.
The idea for the website came from Tracy Snooks (pictured above with Chris Lane), who used to manage the Bridge Street shop and lead on the city’s tourism initiatives. I worked with Tracy for a number of years and can vouch for her passion and dedication to drive the tourism agenda. She has partnered with two other former colleagues of mine, Chris Lane from Artinfusion and Jackie Hall who is leading social media activity.
All three have the experience and vision for what it takes to reignite tourism but they can’t do it alone. They also need to be seen and have profile, which is why I would love to see some kind of tourism hub as part of the plans to create a new city centre library in the TK Maxx and former New Look buildings on Bridge Street.
Now, wouldn’t that be a step in the right direction to get us thinking about tourism again…
COYOTES TRAILBLAZING THROUGH COVID
It’s great to see a new and independently-owned business open during the pandemic.
John and Neil, owners of Coyotes Bar & Grill in Northminster, are two brave men opening a business in such uncertain times. But like most operators with an entrepreneurial spirit, they’ve realised we all need a reason to get our glad rags on and look forward to something more than we ever did.
I had a sneak preview of their plans at the very start and even mucked in with a bit of cement mixing! Fast forward a few weeks and the same spot we had a photo taken in is now completely decorated and furnished.
The guys have told me the response to their opening has been awesome and I couldn’t be happier for them and that part of the city centre.
Coyotes is opening on Friday October 2 and you’ll need to book a table. It’ll be open seven days a week from 8am and serving American-style breakfast until 11am when the lunch menu is on offer, which is until 3pm. They’re not staying open all day, but the team return for the night-time trade with an evening menu and themed entertainment and live music on selected days.
The venue is open to hosting entertainment that the people of Peterborough have said they want to see. Even though the décor and theme have an American influence to it, John and Neil are prepared to stay flexible in their approach to ensure punters are happy and that end of town has a bit more life breathed back into it.
In the meantime, I’m already happy and that’s because of their Po-Boy (yum). Crisp crust and fluffy centre French bread with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and a choice of filling served with coleslaw and fries or salad…
PLOUGHING FORWARD WITH LIVE BANDS
It’s all a bit doom and gloom again with government implementing tighter Covid-19 restrictions because not enough of us are applying common sense – and of course outside the weather is miserable like a scene from the movie Seven.
But whenever I need cheering up, I give my mate Andy Simmonds a call. Despite the most recent 10pm closing law, he and his team at the Ploughman in Werrington continue to pull out the stops to bring a bit of cheer to their Covid-safe punters.
This means – weather dependent I might add – you can listen to live bands playing outside the Ploughman every Sunday night.
Now, if that doesn’t perk up your Sunday ahead of Monday blues then nothing else will. Well done Andy and keep up the good work.
SWIPE RIGHT IF YOU’VE GOT A MERC
According to Click4Reg the type of car you drive increases and decreases your chance of receiving a Tinder match.
My first thought is why would your profile photo be of your car unless you wanted to attract someone with an exhaust pipe fetish.
The Toyota Yaris comes in as the least attractive car from the research. I find this hard to believe since the humble Yaris is often the choice of delivery vehicle for my local Indian and Chinese takeaways – both of which have given me more pleasure than Tinder dates.
The most attractive car to Tinder users is the Mercedes-Benz-C-Class, which sums up the state of the online dating world and some people’s expectations of it.
What’s worse is that 45% of daters would be turned off by a Tinder profile that shows off an old or outdated car.
This is why my profile doesn’t include a photo of my car. Maybe women will be turned on by photos of my love handles and hairy back instead.
MASKING OVER THE CHANCE FOR LOVE?
Apparently, face masks are putting a damper on singles looking for love because they can’t see if those they meet are giving them smiles of encouragement.
A new survey by dating app happn has found that one in four of us couldn’t possibly fall for someone without seeing their mouth or lower face.
I’m in that one in four. This isn’t meant to sound shallow but for me good teeth are everything.
A woman may own a C-Class Merc, have the personality of Holly Willoughby (and some of her other traits) and can make fudge tart like Pete at Fletton bakery but if I can’t see the teeth then it’s a deal breaker.
For me it’s always been get your teeth out for the lads.
KING AND QUEEN OF BEERS
Eddie Baines is a Brewer and Beer Maven with over 25 years’ experience in the beer and hospitality industry and what better way to put that knowledge to proper use but to open a bottled beer shop!
That’s what he and his wife Gina did and Bottle and Board (Board meaning there’s artisanal cheese too) has been with us on Wentworth Street since lockdown.
I popped in to have a gander and was well impressed with the range of high-end beers from around the world on offer.
They’ve battled through lockdown and are still open to a steady stream of regular customers with new ones discovering this gem each day.
There’s new stock coming in all the time and the wide range on sale also includes beers for specific dietary and lifestyle requirements with everything from low to no-alcohol, gluten free, vegan, organic, unpasteurised, Fairtrade and more.
And if you can’t get to the shop to see for yourself then you can pre-order on email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve just reserved Sex and Candy at 6.2% strength.
Check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Bottle-and-Board-337651283092791
SHISHA ON DEMAND FOR THIS GENIE
Up until a year ago I thought shisha was a kebab but I was soon schooled on the subject when Forty Two Bar opened on Broadway.
Now it seems we’ve got another shisha business opening and this one will also sell hot food but will specialise I’m told in desserts.
It’s called Genie and it’s in the place of where the Beehive was for so many years. I’ll be checking it out, so watch this space.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT!
I’ve been called worse I guess.
MY WORD OF THE MONTH: CHRISTMAS
Are people really blaming the government for cancelling Christmas because of the six-person rule? We need to look at our own negligent actions, not those of the rule-makers. I hope it stays as six. Think of what it’ll mean. Less chance of family feuds, more turkey for me, less presents to buy, less chance of getting **** presents, more chance of watching what I want on TV, less clearing up to do and no having to get spare chairs out of the garage. A peaceful – and safe – Christmas at last.
Dave S – I have news…
Lettuce – when we meeting up?
Hamza – my treat next
Martin C – time for another call…
Beer Squad – next session?
Mikey – is it pizza time?!