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Isle of Man Tourism Workshop – Dec 01 2017

An Eventbrite invitation landed the other day to attend an event at the Tynwald building in Douglas. I like these invites that tie in with your  phone calendar designing your day. It’s so difficult to forget stuff now.

The remit wasn’t wholly clear as the invite classed it as a ‘workshop’. It was interesting and fun to see a collection of tourism partners and representatives from the newly formed Department of Enterprise. Having time to connect with the officials is valued as it gives time to share a few ideas and updates. Generally, there is little opportunity to link up during the year and share the good work that has been going on. Meeting Richard Slee for the first time helped – he’s one of these Island characters who has a profile that pops up intermittently in the right places.

Chatting with other tourism partners before the main event is always valued. It reminds you of what we have on the Island and who is doing something new and you rarely hear any doom and gloom. Maybe that is indicative of the type of folk the industry attracts.  You may only see these people one or two times per year and a business opportunity can open up very quickly with a timely natter over a coffee.

Rob Callister MHK welcomed the group with an energy filled address and set out some of the details relating to recent changes in governance. Rob is always good to hear and from my previous life in local politics, I know that his sentiments are laid on righteous foundations. The seminar was opened by Mark Lewin who is the Chief Executive for the Department. I understand he has a background relating to hotel business and it does give a head start. (The warm and relaxed attitude when speaking helped the audience to ease into the afternoon.) The message appeared to be that the Manx tourism mantra needs a rewrite and the tourism operators/partners and service providers have to be part of it. Mr Lewin and his colleague Carl presented a positive view of tourism that our inbound numbers are rising. Factors such as the currency value of the pound, security issues and better marketing has all contributed to the rise. A key target area for visitors is the retired market in the North West of England. That kind of ‘grey market’ is a little worrying when thinking about opportunities in 5 or 10 years time. I’d want to be gearing our visitor economy for younger people now – make the place exciting.

The group sat through an obligatory Powerpoint display and some graphics pointed to the new department structure and other bits and bobs. (I found myself drawn to some of the swish icon graphics on a pie chart.)  The group was then split into 3 and sat around separate tables to map out ideas for the future. At this point you wonder about who is actually at the seminar and my group had a hotel group director, travel group owner, Wildlife Park manager and some self catering accommodation providers. It was totally random selection but I felt that the cohort had a good mix. Sitting with Brian Kelly and Brett Martin is always interesting for pointers about the business climate around the tourism sector. (Ironically, Thomas Cook featured on the radio news minutes before I arrived – slashing 50 UK stores and sending the message that online booking is the direction of travel.)

Expanding the season into the winter months was a topic and an obvious challenge with our weather. Creation of new events are a good option here and my personal experience of handling 100’s of visitors this year for non golf tours tells me that food and drink/agr tours are promising. Spice them up with some spontaneity, quirky pit stops and fun places to see and it wins. Trudging around a tired and grey heritage exhibit doesn’t do it for me.

We had the opportunity to chip in a few ideas and here are some suggestions I threw in. (It was one of those sessions where there was 10 minutes per theme and our department host posted the ideas on flip boards)

  • I like the thought of a bit of rebranding for the Department and with the restructure, now is a good time. Perhaps a charismatic credible individual who is has the ability to communicate well could be the face of  Island tourism? Or maybe a collective? Somebody like John McGuinness has a massive respected following. He is a family guy and knows the Island inside out. Perhaps he would be willing to promote the Island even more than he does now on a more formal footing. The same could be said of Johnny Rea, Mark Cavendish, Samantha Barks and so on. Perhaps a TV celebrity who has a fondness for the Island? There would be costs involved but don’t we spend money on marketing anyway? A magnetic, captivating and interesting shop front for the rock is vital. Something that links in with the motorsport, dramatic scenery and dare I mention it, VIKINGS is a good step. (We have the most exciting Viking heritage and the appeal is vibrant. There are ship burials, battlegrounds, village sites and yet the Viking identity is virtually anonymous here. A spot of ‘Disneyfication’ would win.)
  • Isle of Man Tourism would benefit from a media channel. Short videos with lively and amusing content. This would be self perpetuating and squeezed into a Youtube channel. It would be a simple as Jo Pack’s Sports Package where spontaneous interviews and footage from tourism providers injects fresh content into the Island offering. The is low cost and just requires time, energy and drive.
  • The ‘build it and they will come’ stance sits well with me. The gravity sports element works well in North Wales attracting visitors and a similar operation here could be fabulous. We have the railway going up Snaefell, why not have MTB track options into the different valleys or even a luge experience?
  • Naturally, my thoughts on the department’s choice a few years ago not to promote golf was a huge error in my opinion. It was useful to add to the mix that we have 8 golf courses to utilise and bring the best spending tourists the Island could ever attract in great volume. Thus creating/saving jobs and injecting vast amounts of cash into the food, drink and hotel sector. With over 2000 golfers brought to the Island since 2011, I know that over £1m revenue has been brought to the Island and spent in places that need it. I can’t understand the focus on tourism groups who bring their own apples and stare at a glass of tonic water all night.
  • On that note, there was no obvious representation from the cycling sector. The Island is going cycle crazy and this is on roads that are generally unsafe for pedal pushers. A serious cycle strategy to turn every country footpath into a cycleway, remove all stiles and unfriendly gates and give the visitor an option to avoid the tarmac at most times. It appears simple, yet not on the Government radar. The potential to have a cycle path around the coastline is possible to achieve. The challenge to do it would be irresistible to many tourists. Add a cycleway alongside the railway lines wherever possible and you have a 3/4 day holiday to relish.

All in all, the vibe was good and hopefully, it will be maintained. There was no sign of the key transport providers  and as elephants sit in any room, it’s a big one. The cost of travel and logistic issues are the major component part of the visitor economy. You just hope that this is being addressed behind the scenes.

Looking forward to the outcomes of the afternoon. There were copious amounts of energy and ideas on tap which is always refreshing.

OZBETS – Haven Homes Winter League Matchday 5

OZBETS have been studying the form and predicts a few upsets this week ahead. Tyson Trev and Geordie have a week off to rub their lucky charms. This allows the rest of the field to catch up.

Game of the day has to be Marc Morley and Donald O’Hare versus the troubled duo of Holt and Corrin. Rumour has it, Corrin is looking at the January transfer window to replace the worn out Holt. OZBETS forecast a whopping win for Morley and O’Hare who are likely to be four or five up at the turn.

To be polite as possible, the match between John Cairney/Steve Gandy and Kevin/Stacey is about as glamorous as owning a signed portrait of Lily Savage. The four components of this game have the ability to create a complete golf swing horror feature. The forecast suggests a very scrappy unattractive hackfest with Kevin/Stacey edging it with a margin of fewer errors.

A slightly narcissistic encounter is on the fixture list between Mark Walton/Paul Thomas v Toby and Ged. The battle for full spotlight rights and centre stage will be keenly fought. The smart money is on Toby making the difference, though Walton’s ‘X’ Factor may shine.

Hewett and Gray team will be chasing more points against the sedated outfit of Tasker and Corrin. It looks like the game has half written all over it but take away the ‘pipe and slippers’ approach and it reveals that Tasker and Corrin actually have some golfing ability. This will be the deciding factor and OZBETS predicts a win for them.

The game that has the hallmarks of a gruesome battle has to be that of Coz/Teare against Addy and Wilf Lowey. All four players resemble characters from Lord of the Rings and once the mighty ‘Gandalf of the Greens’ starts wielding the magic putter, Addy will dispatch the Orcs with ease.

The Newt and Mr Ozbets are forecast for a straight win against Tom and Jack. Being ‘new to golf’ and blessed with a very generous allowance, Gandy will need to be 10 under par gross to have a sniff at a draw.

Here is the link for the latest odds – CLICK HERE

Haven Homes Winter League Report + Movie – Matchday 4

NEW – VIDEO REVIEW FROM MATCHDAY 4 – CLICK HERE

Some big games and big scores settled as the teams are now posturing for position. Stretching their lead at the top of the table, Tyson Trev and Geordie Paul won a match closed out early on 15 leaving Coz and Orry in tears and pushed towards the garbage at the foot of the league. The craggy Manxmen were cornered by Trev’s doggish game that is always under the control of his Geordie master.

Orry Glover and Andy Cain timetabled a game to take easy points from John Cairney and Ian Howarth. The former Island Golf Champion (Cain – obviously) ticked over on low revs as his opponents produced a series of misfires and mishits and lost with a rather flattering score of 2 down. Members are overjoyed at seeing Orry ‘new to golf’ Glover playing so well.

Peter Addison and Wilf Lowey playing Tom Gandy and Gary Gilbert was an attractive contest on the card and didn’t fail to disappoint. Addy continues to challenge Father Time and matched many shots from the frustrated Gandy. Assisted by a very welcomed Gary Gilbert who was a made a living from golf in a former life, the pair just couldn’t break their opponents down and the match was halved.

The 2018 Vice-Captain (Mark Walton) and Paul Thomas had a brighter outlook this week and claimed valuable points against Neil Gray and John Taylor with a comfortable 3+1 win. Having around 50 shot handicap between them, a win seemed inevitable. Reports state that Taylor’s attire was a distraction. Wearing the 50 pocket ‘Artful Dodger’ coat, Taylor had to declare a ball lost on three occasions between holes as he’d forgotten which pocket he’d used following his many pick ups.

Rowany Golf Club experienced unusual happenings in the space time continuum on Saturday afternoon. The game involving Tasker and Stacey against Holt and Corrin was generally played in a weird slow motion. The game took at least 5 hours. Obviously, Holt’s concentration was in tatters as his urgency to get in and help Maria in the bar got the better of him. The game was halved on the final hole with a very cool Stacey slotting a 15 footer.

The time phenomenon played part in another evenly matched game. Internet sensation Marc Morley and his partner, Denzil O’Hare were in a fiery head to head with Ged Power and Toby Neale. The game was poised on the 12th hole for a win from Morley to make the match even. O’Hare and Neale had deposited balls up in the gorse to the left of the green, surely lost. Power was too busy asking himself if he had a matching outfit and forgot how to chip the ball. Incredibly, Neale appeared from the thick gorse like the tailor from ‘Mr Benn’ and produced a miraculous up and downer after an estimated 4 minutes and 59 seconds of searching for the ball. Eyebrows and murmurings were delivered and Morley was ‘fed’ up. His fight was over on 17 and points were lost.

Click on Image for movie

Matchday 3 – Haven Homes Winter League at Rowany

The Perfect Murder

Matchday 3 of the Haven Homes Winter League presented a scene from a high-quality drama. Rowany set a glorious stage show with a cast making memorable performances. By sheer coincidence, local theatre company Rushen Players are presenting ‘The Perfect Murder’ at the Erin Arts Centre this weekend and tickets are £10. Amazing value for a classic play with adult themes.

Back to the golf, and following a what could only be described as an ‘unfortunate accident’ last week, the Addy and Wilf pair took on a ‘Burke and Hare’ approach with killer overtones. As John Cairney idled towards the first tee to meet Steve Gandy, little did he know the carnage to follow. A murderous Addy ambushed the docile couple with birdie blows on 1,2 and 3. The victims were left stunned and staggering along the fairways and greens in a battered haze. Henchman Wilf stepped in with lethal body punches and the life of the game was extinguished on the 13th.

Lethal Duo

The feature match of the day showcased Island Champ and pro golfer Tom Gandy with Jack Gilbert playing against Tyson Trev and Geordie Paul. The game matched the hype and culminated in a final hole thriller. Nottingham’s ‘Robbing Hood’ stole a half with an ungainly shot on 18. Little merit was deserved as the flagstick got in the way of an errant, clumsy ball.

Dark clouds are hanging over Mark Walton and Paul Thomas. Languishing in the relegation zone, a 3 pointer was essential. Dave Corrin and the plucky Alan Tasker had other ideas. Thomas was seen brooding and seething as Tasker’s golf ball was on remote control with a series of lucky bounces all day long. Chipping in on 12 and a tricky 5 footer on 18 claimed half a point. Sources say that Thomas is occupied in the belief that his Saturday game is cursed.

Shock of the day was provided by Neil Gray and Ian Howarth. Taking on favourites Marc Morley and Derek O’Hare, the game was tied up on the 17th. The shots tariff was too much as Mr Gray bonded with his partner and whipped up an exciting win.

Spanked by Mr Gray

Toby Neale partnered with Neal Young against Kevin O’Loughlin and David Stacey in a game of two halves. The latter were 3 down at the turn and forced a fight back to all square on 17. Tee shots proved crucial and Stacey/O’Loughlin made it over the finish line on the last hole 2 up. Great to see Neal Young making his Haven Winter League debut.

Kevin/Stacey on 17

Everybody is delighted to see Orry Glover on the Rowany fairways this year. Being ‘new to golf’ and enjoying an eyebrow raising handicap, the OZBETS maestro played most of the round under par. Under the supervision of our Haven sponsor, the duo dealt what only could be described as a ‘lesson in golf’. Peter Holt and Dickie Corrin were sat down on the first hole and schooled into an A* diploma in losing. Following the handshake on the 14th green, Holt was witnessed nursing tearful eyes and mumbling to his depressed co loser complaints about shot allowances.

Sponsorship deal beckons

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Favourite for 2018

Bookings are surging ahead for golfers visiting the Isle of Man. The season is filling up nicely with groups of men and women choosing our Island to come and play.

It could be the excessive cost of the Euro or insane green fee prices in Spain and Portugal that is causing this. Our message to golfers is reaching far and wide. The recent move by the Isle of Man Government to invest in media has paid off in certain quarters. The Island doesn’t have any security issues and is a very safe and friendly place to visit – this is now a factor with many of our international guests.

Our groups love the fact that the fairways are very quiet when they play and there are warm and friendly welcomes at the clubs. Your tour operator, Ged Power has been managing golf tours since 2011 and handled 1000’s of golfers. He knows how to make the experience memorable and fun.

Isle of Man Golf Holidays own two mini buses and are fully licensed and accredited. The flexibility of enjoying tailor made tours wins every time and hence, many of our groups return year after year.

Take a look at our offers and get in touch if you want to find out more.

 

 

Haven Homes Winter League Golf Report – Matchday 2

Match of the Day featured the Island Champion Tom Gandy and young Jack Gilbert taking on the ‘fossil’ brothers Coz and Orry Teare in an encounter that had more shots than Russian vodka bar. Gandy was fresh out of the blocks taking a cool £20 on the first hole with nearest the pin in two. However, the craggy couple of ‘Industrial golfers’ gradually wore down the younger opposition to a dormy score by the 15th. Gandy had to post a two on 16 to keep the game alive. A further win on 17 meant the game was going down the last. A steel eyed Gandy snorted a fairway ripper into the breeze. Feeling the tension and the opportunity to take a point from the Island’s number one Pro tour golfer slipping away, the pressure caused a couple of iffy tee shots. Teare fell by the wayside as his ball landed first green. Coz somehow managed to savagely ‘clump’ the ball to the front edge of the putting surface in 3. Gandy and Gilbert glanced at each other knowing that a memorable half was going to be on the cards with makeable birdie putts on standby. Coz had other ideas and rolled in a freak downhiller which bounced in off the back of the hole. Gandy’s face says it all.

Gandy’s Goose Cooked!

Marc Morley and Douglas O’Hare scored 7 birdies and closed out Dave Corrin and Alan Tasker in a comfortable win. Marc furnished himself with a share of the two’s sweep and his partner Dougie looks like a competent golfer in the making.

Billy Newton and Orry Glover found themselves in the driving seat against a Neale/Power combo who couldn’t find the right gear after 7 holes. The crafty introduction of Orry’s love of cricket became the topic of conversation and this took him back to the crease. Rolling back the years, Glover’s golf swing morphed into a sad series of square cuts and cover drives with holes being gifted. The back nine was akin to an England batting collapse and it was ‘stumps’ at lunchtime for the sponsor’s team.

The day’s most gritty game meant another win for table toppers Big Trev and his hitman. Cairney and Steve Gandy were subjected to Nottingham’s very own ‘Robbing Hood’ with a collection of outrageous up and downs from the wilderness. Tyson Trev loves a bare knuckle fight and delivered a knock out 4/3 win.

The relegation battle was scooped by Neil Gray and Brian Hewett. The panic was raised before the match when it was rumoured that the beleaguered actor Kevin Spacey was on the tee. However, it was actually Kevin and Stacey turned up for a bit of a spanking.

Stacey spotted on the Island

Following last week’s poor game, Pete Holt and Dickie Corrin spent time looking for inspirational measures to enhance performance. As it happens, Holty is a devoted admirer of the planet’s most successful football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. Holty’s evenings used to be spent studying gourmet recipe books for tomorrow’s menu ideas. This has changed to worshipping his idol with constant reruns of the 1999 European Cup Final on TV or settling down to read one of Fergie’s inspirational books about winning ways.

Holty’s ‘Theatre of Dreams’

The day before the big game Holty thought it would be a great idea to take it one step further to treat his partner to an inspirational visit to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. The tour of the stadium paid off and their golf shined against the formidable Addy and Wilf.

Holty remarked ‘Apart from the ground having much more character and history than stadiums nearby, the visit to Old Trafford’s trophy room was very inspiring. I had to tell Dickie that it wasn’t like the museum of ancient artifacts he’d be used to seeing. Explaining the difference between winning the Premiership as opposed to the ‘First Division’ also took some time but I think he got it in the end’.

Panorama and the Isle of Man

Some of you may have seen the Island featured in the recent ‘Paradise Papers’ expose. So far, very little substance and a feeling that the journalist had embarked on a fishing expedition. He’ll have to make a ‘chippy stop’ on the way home based on those findings.

Many folk in the UK will have a different view of our Island following the broadcast. Knowledge that we are independent, innovative and operating to the statutes created and passed by HM Queen has to be impressed.

The Island is a fantastic place to live and visit. The treatment by the BBC and Panorama did not present that fairly in my opinion.

With 8 stunning golf courses to share between 85,000 population, we are officially a ‘Golf Haven’.

Just for fun, we’ve created the special ‘Paradise Papers’ golf tour for you to check out!

Click on the pic!

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