As we begin the process of easing out of lockdown, it is important that we rebuild the tourism industry with a tailored approach appropriate to each destination, as places have been affected by the coronavirus crisis in different ways. At the heart of this is listening to communities – both individuals and businesses.
Falkirk Community Trust is one of the major tourism bodies in the Forth Valley region; with responsibility for the management and operation of a range of community-facing sport, recreation, arts, heritage and library services.
The Trust is working closely with local people to support them throughout the coronavirus crisis whilst also beginning to develop plans in conjunction with the community, looking ahead to when Falkirk and its surrounding areas are open to visitors.
Most of the heritage, sports and arts venues operated by the Trust have been closed due to the pandemic. These are well-used local spaces which offer entertainment and wellbeing opportunities, and in recognition of the importance of such facilities, the Trust quickly provided virtual alternatives including online fitness classes, mental health advice and library access.
The resources were well received by customers and partners, with feedback indicating these have been a vital lifeline particularly for those most vulnerable during the crisis.
During lockdown, the public parks managed by the Trust - Callendar Park, The Helix Park, Kinneil Estate and Muiravonside Country Park – have also been essential places for local people to enjoy and boost their wellbeing.
Whilst continuing to manage these spaces and their online resources, the Trust is also planning for recovery, looking ahead to re-opening venues that are so vital for local people whilst considering the financial implications.
As the phased plan for easing lockdown comes into effect, these destinations are also no doubt going to attract visitors from further afield. In order to prepare for the return of tourism to the area, the Trust’s teams are focussing their attention on recovery planning and working with stakeholders to ensure the parks remain safe places for all. Throughout this process, the Trust is listening to customers, staff and partners using ongoing research and insight.
The Trust is working with Community Leisure UK to conduct customer and staff research with a significant number of customers and staff responding. There is a broad understanding that people may have changed how they want to work and use services in future, or they may have health concerns which give them a unique set of concerns.
The feedback received from these surveys will enable the Trust to take a tailored approach to recovery planning, that takes into account the respondents’ priorities. By working with Government bodies and experts, the Trust will be adopting best practice approaches for reopening in line with guidance and the feedback of local people.
People’s needs are at the heart of everything we do and no more so than at this time as we consider the health and wellbeing of staff and customers as our priority as we carefully consider each phase.
The financial implications of re-opening also remain a key consideration as we gradually progress through the phases with a managed approach to ensure we can walk before we can run.