Local MP Nadhim Zahawi was joined by Nick de Bois, Chairman of the VisitEngland Advisory Board, on a visit to Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall in Stratford town centre at the invitation of Shakespeare’s England to promote English Tourism Week.
The VisitEngland led initiative is an annual celebration of the tourism industry, highlighting its economic importance to local economies and promoting the innovation, quality and range of products and services on offer to encourage more domestic breaks.
“While Stratford-upon-Avon has so much to offer, Shakespeare stands out as a huge international driver of tourism to the town and the region. It’s wonderful to see the Schoolroom & Guildhall is fully operational once again so that future generations may learn about our rich history.”
The MP also visited another iconic heritage site in the town, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where Shakespeare courted his bride-to-be. Together with Shakespeare’s New Place – the site of the playwright’s former home – the historic thatched cottage, orchard and sculpture garden reopens on Saturday March 26 for the 2022 season.
English Tourism Week, with ‘You’re Welcome’ as its strapline this year, is also sending a message that England’s tourism industry is ready to welcome visitors and provide a stand-out experience.
Nick de Bois said:
“English Tourism Week shines the spotlight on an industry which supports millions of jobs and local economies right across England, as well as encourages people to discover and explore the outstanding tourism products, destinations and experiences right here on our doorstep in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“It has been fascinating not only to hear from Shakespeare’s England about its plans for the future and how it is helping businesses which are key to a successful sector in what is a hotbed of tourism, but also the work of the staff and volunteers who have kept this wonderful building afloat.”
De Bois had a briefing session with Helen Peters, CEO of Shakespeare’s England, on the state of the sector in Warwickshire.
“The tourism and leisure industry is vital to this region, so it is great to have support from our local MP and Minister who fully understands the importance of a successful recovery after more than two years of strife across the sector.
“Nick is a highly influential figure in the industry, so it was very useful to relay first-hand to him how our members are trading, what they have overcome and their hopes for the future. It was a wonderful sunny Warwickshire day – and we hope this is a sign that a successful summer is around the corner.”
Lindsey Armstrong, general manager, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, said it was only able to open thanks to five successful funding applications since the onset of Covid.
“Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall is a national treasure that we want to see enjoyed and explored by visitors so that they can discover its unique stories and how they connect to the world today. However, the impact of Covid-19 in 2020 created unprecedented challenges for a small heritage organisation like ours – in the year that we should have been celebrating our 600th anniversary.
“Thankfully, the support that we have had from the Heritage Lottery Emergency Fund, the Warwickshire County Council Adapt & Diversify Fund and the government’s Culture Recovery Fund gave us the lifeline that we so needed. Having opened intermittently over the last 12 months, we are now set to once again open our doors seven days a week from Friday, April 1.
“During English Tourism Week, our staff and volunteers are extending a warm message of welcome and hope that visitors will plan a visit to us in the coming months.”
Photo: Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall – Front L-R Helen Peters, CEO of Shakespeare’s England and Nadhim Zahawi, MP.
Standing – Lindsey Armstrong, general manager of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall
Back L-R Anthony Bird, Chairman of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom Trust and Nick de Bois, Chairman of VisitEngland Advisory Board