Following a successful pilot session in June, people working in visitor-facing roles in Norwich are invited to take part in the first full sessions of the brand new Norwich Ambassador Scheme, designed to encourage people who come into contact with both visitors and local people to act as champions and passionate ambassadors of the city.
Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART), in partnership with VisitNorwich, has set up the scheme to reinforce a culture of pride and enthusiasm in Norwich, and encourage the provision of consistent, high quality, accurate information about the city and its heritage and cultural offer to visitors and local people. The scheme is intended to be of interest and relevant to a variety of people including accommodation staff, taxi drivers, information point operatives in shopping centres, shop staff, market traders and members of the public keen to broaden their own knowledge of what the city has to offer.
Two sessions are being held - the first on Tuesday, 19 October from 4.15pm - 7.45pm, and the second on Wednesday, 20 October from 10.15am - 1.45pm. Both will take place at The Assembly House in Norwich and the cost for participants of £25 includes a light buffet. The sessions will be interactive and provide an overview of Norwich's tourism industry, its heritage and culture. All attendees will receive a programme pack to take away with information about the iconic Norwich 12 buildings, Norwich HEART, useful general Norwich information and vouchers for money-off at some of Norwich's key attractions.
Michael Loveday, Chief Executive of Norwich HEART, said: 'Feedback from the pilot session showed there is a great appetite for the scheme. Sometimes Norwich isn't given the credit it deserves as an outstanding, vibrant, cultural and heritage destination and place to live. We hope that the Norwich Ambassador Scheme will be a way of increasing pride in our city and an awareness of what we have, and passing that on to visitors.'
Clare Millar, Head of VisitNorwich, said: 'In order for Norwich to compete as a leading UK destination, constant vigilance and improvement in the businesses, people and welcome that go to make up the visitor experience is essential. We need to ensure that every step of the visitor journey, from planning to booking to arrival and time spent in the city, meets and exceeds expectations. Norwich's Ambassador Scheme is a great way of helping the city to achieve this.'
Susan Hare-Winton from the Customer Service team at John Lewis said: 'I attended the pilot session and was extremely impressed with the Scheme and the ideas behind it. I found out there was a lot more to our city than I thought and it has inspired me to visit some of our historical sites around the city.'
Devin Grosse, General Manager at Holiday Inn Norwich North, said: 'The Ambassador scheme is a fantastic initiative that can educate us all, whether we have lived in the area all our lives or are new to it. Both Norwich and Norfolk have so much to offer our guests and with the Ambassador Scheme we can be sure visitors are aware of our offerings, and we can try as a team to all encourage return visits - converting a visitor to a fan has to be our priority. I learnt so much about our local area and I would encourage everyone in our industry to go through this programme and support this valuable local scheme.'
The Ambassador Scheme forms part of HEART's SHAPING 24 project, a cultural heritage and tourism initiative which takes forward the Norwich 12 project with the Belgian city of Ghent. The Scheme links in with other areas of the project which aim to maximize the access and enjoyment of the 24 outstanding heritage sites within the project, through site improvements, volunteer training, improved signage and promotion, events and education activities. The project is funded by the European Union's European Regional Development Fund (INTERREG IVA 2 Seas Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013).
Notes to editors
For more information please contact Christina Lister, Communications Manager at Norwich HEART on 01603 599570 or email email@example.com.
VisitNorwich is the official tourism marketing agency for the Norwich area which promotes the Norwich area to the rest of the UK and to the world. Operational from 1st April 2005, VisitNorwich is a private/public sector partnership and not-for-profit company. For further information on Norwich and its surrounding area visit www.visitnorwich.co.uk.
About Norwich 12
Norwich 12 is the UK's finest collection of individually outstanding heritage buildings spanning the Norman, Georgian, Victorian and modern eras, offering walks and tours; visitor attractions; exhibitions; music and performances; cafes and restaurants; and gift shops. It is a pioneering heritage concept that is developing 12 of the city's iconic buildings into an integrated family of heritage attractions which will act as an internationally important showcase of English urban and cultural development over the last 1,000 years.
Norwich 12 comprises: Norwich Castle, Norwich Cathedral, The Great Hospital, The Halls - St Andrew's and Blackfriars', The Guildhall, Dragon Hall, The Assembly House, St James Mill, The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Surrey House, City Hall and The Forum.
Norwich 12 is an initiative by Norwich HEART, which secured £1 million from the Treasury's Invest to Save Budget for the project to initially run 2006-9. The ERDF funding allows this initiative to be developed until 2011.
About SHAPING 24
SHAPING 24 - Strategies for Heritage Access Pathways in Norwich and Ghent - is a new cultural tourism initiative that will link together the 12 heritage sites in Norwich that make up Norwich 12, with 12 heritage sites in Ghent. The project seeks to promote and support the 24 sites, raise the profile of Norwich and Ghent as significant cultural heritage cities and increase awareness of the longstanding historical links between this part of England and the Low Countries. By working together, the two cities will benefit from the experiences and professional expertise in both cities, and will be able to apply innovative approaches to the challenges facing historic cities.
SHAPING 24 is being led by HEART with Ghent City Council as the partner organisation. The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund from the European Union's INTERREG IVA 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013. The total value of SHAPING 24 is €4.5m, of which Norwich's share is €2.3m, which includes match funding from a variety of organisations.
About Norwich HEART
Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART) is a private, charitable trust set up to act as an umbrella organisation for all of the heritage on offer in Norwich. We strategically plan, regenerate, manage and promote Norwich's heritage and act as a best practice model internationally for developing heritage as a social and economic regeneration vehicle.
Norwich 12 and SHAPING 24 are initiatives by HEART.
This project arose out of a mutual desire to exploit the existing connections between the two cities - Norwich and Ghent have previously worked together on the Liveable City project which aimed to improve the public space in historic city centres.
Norwich also shares many important aspects of economic, social and cultural history with Ghent going back centuries - for example the lives of the burghers, merchants and guildsmen in the two regions in the middle ages; the development of the wool trade in the sixteenth century; the establishment of trade routes; religious connections; and the importance of migration for the two cities - especially the settlement of Flemish workers in Norwich in the 16th century.
Today these two cities share a sense of cultural development, developing and promoting the distinctiveness of their city's heritage in a range of innovative ways.
Just as Norwich was England's second city from the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, Ghent was one of the most important cities in Europe from the year 1000 to around 1550, second only to Paris in size.
Today, it is the capital of the province of East Flanders with a population of 240,000.
As with Norwich, much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact. The city boasts three beguinages and a belfry which are recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, one medieval castle, a cathedral, several museums and two important abbeys.
For more information go to www.visitgent.be.
What is Interreg IVA 2 Seas Programme?
Interreg IVA 2 Seas Programme is an EU-funded programme which can part-finance joint co-operation projects between organisations in eligible areas in England and organisations in eligible areas in France, Belgium and/or the Netherlands under a variety of themes including Economic Development, Environment and Quality of Life.
The programme covers an area of cross-border cooperation located at the crossroads of the Channel and the North Sea and involves the coastal regions of four member states: France (Nord-Pas de Calais), England, Flanders and the Netherlands.
The overall aim of the INTERREG IVA Programme is to: 'Support strategic cross-border co-operation for a more prosperous and sustainable region.'
For more information on the 2 Seas programme visit: http://www.interreg4a-2mers.eu/UK/pdf/InfosclesUK.pdf
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