Friday, 04 December 2020

PR firms & pop-up shops to help bring visitors

A PUBLIC relations company is to be paid thousands of pounds to help promote Henley.

A PUBLIC relations company is to be paid thousands of pounds to help promote Henley.

The move is part of a drive to attract more visitors to the town under a new economic development action plan for 2016/17 compiled by Henley Town Council and South Oxfordshire District Council.

The plan pledges to deliver “significant” economic benefits with key aims for the next year including:

• Supporting new and existing retail and hospitality businesses to create town centre vitality.

• Marketing Henley to maximise footfall.

• Supporting a tourism and events programme.

• Investing in infrastructure.

The town council has allocated £6,000 in its budget to “work with a PR company to promote Henley”. This would go towards two press visits and coverage by three national publications.

Another £1,500, plus £1,000 from the district council, will go towards PR designed to capitalise on the area’s link to Midsomer Murders.

The ITV drama series regularly films in the area, encouraging tourists from around the world to visit.

The town council has also budgeted £4,000 on working with commercial agents to launch “pop-up” shops in empty retail premises with another £1,000 coming from the district. Another £6,500 of funding from the shop front improvement scheme has been carried forward from last year’s budget.

The town council has budgeted another £2,250 on advertising and web promotion and £1,250 to commission a photographer to take photographs at events during the year.

The economic development action plan is revised annually by the two councils. This year’s plan includes a repeat of the recent Visit Henley Day for tourism providers as part of English Toursim Week and a shopping event to mark Small Business Saturday in December.

A total of £12,500 has been carried forward to invest in the town’s signage with another £1,000 going towards supporting and developing websites promoting Henley and South Oxfordshire. Council officers will continue to undertake an annual survey of vacant shops and will try to liaise more effectively with businesses, schools and other organisations over vacancies, apprenticeships and work experience.

They will also campaign for Henley to become a Business Improvement District, a defined area in which a levy is charged on all business rates payers in addition to the rates bill.

The proceeds are used to develop projects designed to benefit businesses.

The town’s current shop vacancy rate is about 4.5 per cent compared with a national average of 13.2 per cent.

The St Audrey’s gift shop in Duke Street closed last month but has since been taken over by beauty salon Charmosa and florist Stemtation closed its shop in Market Place Mews but the business continues to trade.

Jewellers Precious Love, also in Duke Street, closed on Monday after 10 years after owner Tom Bulgarelli claimed the town had been “marginalised” as a shopping destination.

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