Access, amenities, attractions and ancillary services

The four As (access, amenities, attractions and ancillary services) can be used to investigate the provision of tourism at a destination. Using information gathered from panel discussions in week 2 and 3 of the course and from information gathered during the field trip, you are required to critically evaluate the provision of tourism in Cambridge and to identify the ways in which government policy and strategy has affected this provision.

It is difficult to decide which one of the Cooper’s four As is the most important, but considering the reason why people travel the attractions are definitely significant element of leisure tourism to a destination.

Attractions are created to bring people to them and to provide them enjoyment and education as well as to fulfil their leisure and recreational necessitates. There are different sorts of attractions, for example favourable climate might be the key attraction for somebody (Mediterranean destinations) whereas for the majority of people there are historic cities (Athens), natural attractions (The Grand Canyon) and entertainment centres (Alton Tower) (Mill and Morrison 1992).

Amenities including accommodation are also essential element of tourism industry within destination because it contributes to the country’s economy. The quality and range of that component vary depending on customer’s needs and expectations. It includes hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfast apartments, cottages, camping sites as well as VFR (Cooper et al).

Another very important although expensive aspect of tourism is easy access to the destinations – location of access routes, railways and highways, the closeness of airports (Page 2003).

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Ancillary services provide support to the tourists (promotional information) and to the suppliers of tourism services (access to marketing research, advice about marketing, quality and training, promoting the destination) (Holloway 2002).

Cambridge is a historic city with a population of around 105,000. In 1999 4.1 million visitors came to the city. That number has doubled from the middle 1970s to the late 1980s mostly due to a revised classification of day visitors. The total value of tourism to Cambridge is estimated at more than �260 million. It provides 5,500 full-time jobs and 2,000 part-time and seasonal jobs. The majority of people visiting Cambridge are day visitors, most of them staying for part of a day, the rest just for one or two nights (Maitland 1996). Most of them come to the city on holiday and sightseeing and 10% for business during the peak season from June to September. 15% of the visitors were staying for longer with half of them coming from out of the country (Cambridge).

In the city situated by the River Cam and its surroundings there are many attractions. University of Cambridge with thirty-one Colleges attracts visitors from all over the world. It is one of the oldest universities in the world and one of the biggest in the United Kingdom. King’s College was funded in 1411 intended only for 70 people and never meant to raise money for the college. After charging for the entrance as a way to cope with visitor pressure the number of them has fallen from 1 million to 330,000. Charging at the most popular Colleges increases the number of visitors at the less popular. The estimated income from tourists is 470,000 a year that is spent on restoration of the chapel, repairs and provision of information or services for visitors. There is no income from any other sources. King’s College offers audio guides in French, German and Japanese and provides free leaflets in seven major languages.

Although there are many people wanting to visit Colleges it makes it more difficult because of the lack of signs with direction where the Colleges are. The reason for that is because there is no cooperation between City Council and Colleges. King’s College does not provide any facilities in the chapel to have a tea, coffee, no Visitor Centre, rehearsal rooms, changing rooms, no even toilets. The explanation for that are visual effects, grade list. There is no planning permission to build these facilities that would collide with the King’s view appearance. Provision of facilities for people with disabilities is also insignificant because it could collide with the character and fabric of these historic buildings (Buxton 2006).

Cambridge is easily accessible by road and rail and Stansted airport is just 30 miles away. More than half of visitors come by car and 31% by train. To avoid traffic in the centre of the city there has been introduced high quality parking and bus regular service called Cambridge Park & Ride used by more than 1.5 million people a year. Visitors use for free 5000 spaces spread across five sites located on the main routes into the city. Unfortunately it is not possible to park overnight. Caravanetes at two sites do not allow caravans (Cambridge).

The main problem with access in that historic city is congestion (caused by cars, coaches and pedestrians) that affects the experience of both residents and tourists as well as the environment through the pollution, noise they make and danger they create for pedestrians and cyclist. Visitors, especially language school students cause also disturbance, obstruction of pavements, unsafe cycling and rubbish (Maitland 1996). More difficulties are causing the following: small and narrow roads, no coach stations and not many bus lanes. Visitors are cramped because of one way system.

Cambridge does not want National Express buses to come straight from the airport causing more traffic. Another problem are coaches causing traffic dropping off visitors that usually stay just for one day, very often they have their own food so that they do not spend money and the city does not get any advantages from that sorts of tourists. Cars that are allowed to access centre of the city closed for traffic between 10-4 are these with deliveries to the shops only (Campbell-Bain 2006).

Cambridge has less accommodation than majority of other destinations similar to it. It provides 2,200 bed spaces in Cambridge and 1,100 in the outskirts of the city. An occupancy rate is very high of even 90% (Palmer 2006). Its largest hotel is Holiday Inn with 196 rooms. It provides five function rooms fully equipped with multi-media wall, video conferencing facilities and surround sound. Churchill College offers 16 conference rooms able to seat up almost 100 delegates (Chester 1999). Cambridge is important place for conferences. Figures suggest an average 500 conferences a year. In the summer when students go for holiday residence halls are used for conferences what makes source of income.

One of the problems associated with provision of accommodation in Cambridge is that there are no campsites (one campsite outside with 120 pitches) and most of the hotels are 4* which means that only certain types of visitors are able to afford that. People wanting to stay in the city centre usually have to use accommodation on the outskirts of the city because of the lack of bed spaces (Heath 2006). There has been no increase in provision of accommodation since the 1990s. A range of accommodation is necessary, serviced and self catering. In order to increase accommodation stock for visitors Cambridge got permission to build new hotels at the Cattle Market with 120 bedrooms and Coldham’s Lane with 80 bedrooms (Cambridge Tourism Strategy 2001-2006).

Cambridge tries to increase provision for accommodation by converting houses into tourist accommodation (Maitland 1996).

The key issue of current Cambridge Tourism Strategy 2001-2006 is to maximise the benefits and minimise the problems of tourism. It guides policies and decisions of the Tourist Information Centre. Maitland1996 suggests that for the success of policy that improves provision of tourism in Cambridge cooperation and partnership of the following bodies is necessary: local (City Council, Destination Cambridge, Planning, City Centre Management), regional (East of England Tourist Board) and national (Visit Britain, Cambridge County Council). Resident’s contribution is also essential. Cambridge City Council implemented in 1980 tourism policy to manage rather than promote tourism in that historic city.

Marketing in Cambridge is selective, the advertisements in the trade press are limited (promoting attractions in the surrounding area) and there are no advertisements in the consumer press. Responsible for marketing are the following bodies: Tourism Information Centre, Visit Britain and Destination Cambridge (provide information about amenities and attractions). Over 25 years the key strategic aims have remained the same- not to attract more tourists, or rather to attract only certain type of visitors. Cambridge City Council tries to attract more business visitors because of their high expenditure. People coming to Cambridge should use the city as a base to explore the region (Palmer 2006).

Cambridge Tourism Strategy 2001-2006 identifies the following key issues: more and better quality toilets (programme of improvements), site for Coach Park with facilities for drivers, information and improved access for tourism, especially for people with disabilities (hearing bulbs for deaf, facility for blind to find their way around situated near the market, free of charge electrically powered scooters, wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs, 50% reduction on all single and return fares) as well as the elderly, improved range of attractions, signing to attractions, free welcoming leaflet, central place for meeting/picnic eating and covered seating areas, promotion of museums and attractions.

There has been implemented improvement to the quality and efficiency of the Tourism Information Centre (including multilingual information) in order to provide visitors better service including sales of maps and guide books, accommodation, information on public transport, local and national events, places of interest and local services. Tourism Information Centre developed telephone advanced booking scheme which is very useful for visitors who want to plan their trip, especially from overseas who would like to book accommodation before arriving to the destination. Another important point is signing to get to the car parks, services and information at the car parks, signs to the historic centre. In order to improve visitor safety there have been installed more CCTV cameras and better lighting. Promoting walking and cycling and use of bollards help to avoid congestion in the central area of the city (Cambridge Tourism Strategy 2001-2006).

The Grand Arcade is being built in the centre of Cambridge and is the most significant retail development for over 30 years. It is scheduled to open in 2008 and without any doubt will bring high number of shoppers. The Grand Arcade will provide visitors 900 car parking spaces, 500 cycle spaces, storage lockers, 50 new shops, two cafes and a new restaurant (The Grand Arcade).

Overload of tourists makes Cambridge less attractive. Maitland 1996 explains that to decrease overcrowding and control visits at the Colleges City Council introduced in 1985 the College Pass scheme and the Courtesy Couriers. The Pass scheme allows parties of 10 or more visitors (maximum 20) to pre-book with Tourist Information Centre their visit accompanied by a Blue Badge Guide. Only certain number of groups is allowed for a visit and visitors without a pass are refused admission. The Courtesy Couriers are in the most popular places in the city centre and provide essential information to visitors.

Cambridge reduced congestion by introduction of Park & Ride with five sites around the city. There are buses going on a regular basis from there to the heart of Cambridge. To help visitors identify buses there are different colours of each of the routes. To attract customer to use Park & Ride there are cheaper fares for a standard trip (�1.80 return), parking policy links parking charges to Park & Ride fares. Park & Ride is the cheapest alternative for stays over 2 hours. Park & Ride staffed 24 hours a day provide facilities like toilets, baby change rooms, waiting rooms, snack and drink machines, information points, cycling parking. The site is equipped with CCTV cameras in order to provide visitors security and to encourage better use of city facilities and attractions.

There is a tourist information point at Trumpington, where visitors have an opportunity to book a hotel room. At all sites there are distributed tourist attraction leaflets and maps. Park & Ride website provides maps showing the way how to get to the sites. In some magazines there are discounts on tickets to the attractions. To promote Park & Ride it has been placed at the heart of the Christmas access plan, it appears on travel news bulletins and is promoted through joint promotions with retailers (Marks & Spencer, John Lewis). Cambridge City Council tries to change parent’s travel habits through their children and organized in the summer 2005 road show with activities for children (Campbell-Bain 2006).

Tourism is very important to the economy of the country. It brings benefits (creates jobs, support services used by residents, supports conservation, spending on services) but at the same time causes problems like overcrowding, increase of public costs of services, disturbance and wear and tear on buildings. Provision of facilities for visitors is on a high level in Cambridge. However more cooperation should be carried on between Colleges which are private institutions and Cambridge City Council in order to provide even better service for tourists. Partnership of different bodies as well as residents is necessary. Many strategies have been already implemented in Cambridge but there is still lots of work to do to improve visitors experience in Cambridge.

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Access, amenities, attractions and ancillary services
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