Visit Cornwall boss Malcolm Bell distributed an internal memo that is reported to ask the tourism board’s staff to refrain from using the words ‘England’ and ‘county’ in promotional literature. Instead he has told them to use the name Cornwall itself or the word ‘region’. He said the area should stand out from the rest of the nation with the aim of luring tourists.
The memo was also forwarded to an individual outside the company, explaining the position of the board on the matter. It was posted to Facebook, and now Bell says he regrets that the memo has been misinterpreted as politically motivated. He told reporters that they aren’t denying they are county. They just believe it would be good to make Cornwall stand out more. They aren’t denying their Englishness, he continued, explaining that they are only standing up for Cornwall to be Cornwall. That works well in Europe. They are saying that Cornwall is different, and the fact that it’s a county doesn’t matter.
Bell also said that he hasn’t banned the use of the word ‘England’. He thinks this has been misinterpreted, as they have only said that they would not use the word ‘county’. This is because it doesn’t really add anything to the literature. He says the decision was based on a survey conducted last year of visitors. They tested the water to find out if it was a disadvantage or advantage to play more on their unique history.
In the survey, participants were asked if they knew there was a Cornish language, and 75% responded they did – 67% said they thought it was a good thing and half said they would be interested in understanding how the names of places were related to the language. The survey also asked if participants were aware of Cornish Culture. Fifty-eight percent said yes, and 69% of those said they wanted to know more.
Bell says these responses showed that Cornish connections were an asset, so being English and non-English at the same time is also an asset. They can’t turn around and say they are part of England but not, as this wouldn’t make any marketing sense. They are simply using subtle marketing tactics, he noted. However, the move has been interpreted by some as a nod to Cornish nationalists, and an overwhelming number of people have been calling Visit Cornwall with their concerns.
Bell says that he would have taken more care in the email if he knew he would have ended up writing an explanation. He regrets that people are taking this the wrong way, but it’s hard to be different in an electronic world. The decision wasn’t made for a political or personal agendas but was logically made based on their research.
People want to be somewhere different when they go on holiday, Bell added. Cornwall has things that make it unique from other counties, and it makes sense to play on that cultural aspect. They don’t use ‘county’ often due to the term being associated with places in Ireland – like County Antrim – which confuses people.
Mebyon Kernow party leader Dick Cole says they are pleased with Bell’s decision, as it’s a positive way to acknowledge the distinctiveness of Cornwall, and they realise they have to promote it as such. He thinks it’s better to promote it as a distinctive Celtic area than simply a part of England.Author's Google+ page