Are we all ready for the invasion of new visitors?

By Charlotte Hofton

Published on Friday, November 23, 2012 - 11:14


THE VIEW FROM HERE MUCH excitement as the new tourist thingy, Visit IW, was launched at Osborne House. I’m sorry, let’s start again. Visit IW is, cue fanfare of trumpets, the "Island’s Destination Management Organisation".

That’s better. Always good to have a destination management organisation to woo the punters and they’re certainly brimful of expectation at Visit IW Ltd.

It’s a kind of one-stop shop for visitors, run by investors from the private sector with financial backing from the IW Council. That sounds OK. Provided the council just stumps up the money and isn’t allowed any direct contact with the customers, we should be fine.

The chairman of our new shop is Simon Dabell, a steady hand in the retail industry, having flogged yo-ho-ho pirates and funny mirrors at Blackgang Chine for years. Now he’s got an even bigger floor space to control, retailing the entire Island.

Perhaps he could use his expertise to amuse the customers by installing funny mirrors in the public toilets. What’s that? There aren’t any public toilets? Oh well, it was just an idea.

Mr Dabell gave an upbeat introduction to the launch, after which council leader Cllr David Pugh endorsed the project. Thank you, David, that was lovely. Now, get off round the back and check the stock. We seem to be out of public toilets.

Next up was James Berresford, CEO of Visit England, who told us lots of interesting things about tourism. He’d brought a fascinating little map, which reflected visitor satisfaction around the country.

Apparently they quite like taking their breaks in our Island shop. Not so keen on East Sussex, though. I don’t know why that is, though it might explain why around 20 people a year chuck themselves off Beachy Head.

That sort of defeatist behaviour certainly won’t do for our shop, if David Thornton, CEO of Visit IW, has his way. Our visitors will be just one merry throng of skipalong happikins once Mr Thornton gets going with his marketing plans.

He made the new shop sound like a paradise pleasure-dome. He compared the Island to the Riviera, he said we were the "Isle of Music", he thought ferry crossings were like having a shoulder massage (Excuse me? Is this guy on something?) he said we were "a little bit foreign".

Before the audience had had time to absorb the shock of being "a little bit foreign" (having thought we were a luxury department store, it turns out we’re actually Mr Patel’s corner shop) Mr Thornton was off again, telling us how he’s going to tweet and network and create websites and do tons of jargony stuff and haul in an extra 300,000 customers a year.

Heavens, there’s no time to waste. Oi, Pugh, are you still out the back? Got those toilets ordered? Well, get a move on.

Then shift yourself down to the ferries and tell them to forget the shoulder massage, a decent service is all we want.

Then come back and start mending the shop floor. How are our customers supposed to get from one department to another with all these potholes around?

PFI, you say? Will it be finished by the time this party of 300,000 arrives? Well, you’d better explain that to Mr Thornton.

He won’t be pleased, I can tell you.

The equation just sounded so familiar

SUMMONED to the CP letters page to receive a ticking-off from Bob Blezzard, I was immediately transported back to a grim classroom, having to explain to the maths master why my answers to his algebra questions were wrong.

Blezzard. It’s the perfect name for somebody who’s cross, a blizzard, a tizzy, a blether, all rolled into one and shouting at me. Golly, he’s in a wiggy-fit.

It seems, just as my algebra answers were fictitious, so was my claim that our LibDem candidate in the police commissioner elections was Keith House. Turned out he wasn’t.

"How can Charlotte have got it so badly wrong?" demanded Mr Blezzard, among a stream of invective on my shortcomings. Yes, it was the same with those y-squared bracket things, having to explain how I got it so badly wrong.

It was the algebra hell all over again. Back then, it was because I copied the answers from Jones Minor, who, as I later discovered to my cost, was actually an idiot.

This time, I copied my information from Private Eye, which was insistent Keith House was our LibDem candidate. Its story was presumably sanctioned by its editor, Ian Hislop, whom I rather used to admire. Now I realise that, like Jones Minor, he is an idiot.

Mr Blezzard also shouted at me for not checking my facts on the police authority website. The maths master did just the same, only with algebra textbooks.

Why didn’t I consult them? Because algebra was boring. And so, I’m afraid, were the police commissioner elections. At least I livened things up by inventing a candidate.

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