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Visit Cornwall drops word 'England' from literature

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: August 08, 2012

Visit Cornwall boss Malcolm Bell insisted the move is not politically motivated

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The head of Visit Cornwall said he regrets that plans to drop the words “England” and “county” from its promotional literature have been misinterpreted as politically motivated.

The tourism board boss Malcolm Bell sent out an internal memo to staff asking them to drop the references in favour of "region" or simply the name Cornwall itself.

Mr Bell said the area ought to stand out from the rest of the country in an effort to attract tourism.

He forwarded the memo to an individual outside the company to explain the board’s position, and it later appeared on Facebook.

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Speaking to This is Cornwall, Mr Bell said: “We are not denying we are a county. We just think it would be good to big up Cornwall. It’s not a denial of Englishness.

“We are just standing up for Cornwall being Cornwall. In Europe that works very well. The fact it’s a county is relevant, but we are just trying to say Cornwall is different.”

He added: “We have not banned the use of the word ‘England’. I think it has been misinterpreted. We have said we would drop the word ‘county’ because it does not really add much.”

The tourism chief explained the decision was based on a visitors’ survey carried out in 2011, and insisted it was not politically motivated: “We tested the water to see whether it was an advantage or disadvantage to play more on our unique history,” he said.

“We asked ‘Are you aware of the Cornish language?’, to which 75% said they were. Of those, 67% said they thought it was a positive thing, and of them half would be interested in understanding how place names related to the language.

“We also asked ‘Are you aware of Cornish culture?’, to which 58% said yes. Of those, 69% said they would like to know more.

“So this demonstrated that Cornish connections were actually an asset, so being ‘English but not English’ was an asset. We cannot turn around and say ‘we are part of England but not’ – that doesn’t make marketing sense. This is subtle marketing.”

Some have interpreted the move as a nod to Cornish nationalists, and Visit Cornwall has been inundated with calls about the move. But Mr Bell said: “If I had known I would have to write an explanation I would have taken more care over the email.

“I do regret that people are reading this the wrong way, but it’s difficult in an electronic world to be different.

“It was not from some personal or political agenda, it came from the logic of our evidence.”

He added: “People when they are on holiday want to be somewhere different. We have got things that make us unique from other counties. It makes sense to work on that cultural aspect.”

Mr Bell continued: “We don’t use ‘county’ much because that’s a term associated with Irish places, for example County Antrim. We can get people confused.”

Dick Cole, the leader of Mebyon Kernow, the Party for Cornwall, said: “We are pleased because this is a positive way of acknowledging Cornwall’s distinctiveness.

“We are pleased that people have started to recognise Cornwall’s distinctiveness more and more, and realise they must promote it.

“I think it’s a positive occurrence. Isn’t it better to promote Cornwall as a distinctive Celtic entity than as just part of England?”

People have taken to Twitter to discuss the news. User @lizzylovesart wrote: “Bother! Will I have to get a visa to visit my mum and dad in Cornwall?”

Meanwhile @NoshableAdam asked in response to the news: “One step closer to independence?”

And @DavyPaul tweeted: “Cornwall is not a 'county' and it is not England, any more than Scotland or Wales (or Monmouthshire ;^) ) Frequent Visitor!”

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  • cyclesafe  |  August 18 2012, 9:44PM

    Good that Malcolm has clarified this. It sounded anti-English on the TV; I have no problem with Cornwall asserting its distinctiveness re marketing against other destinations in England and Britain, but don't give the few hundred crazy seperatists media candy like this. As far as I'm aware, Cornwall remains part of England! Yes Cornwall has more of a Celtic history than other parts of England but that doesn't make it a purely 'Celtic' place - it has Anglo-Saxon, Norman and all our other common history too. Does Visit Cornwall actually want less English people and more Celts visiting?

  • Big_Ger  |  August 09 2012, 10:12PM

    I have had contact with Mr Bell, who has explained the logic behind the change of tactic, and I am very pleased with his thinking, and his courteous reply. That is enough for me. I look forward to seeing more of Cornwall's heritage and culture being advertised and promoted around the UK, and abroad, as a way of bolstering the tourist trade here, and drawing in more visitors.

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  • kernowcallin  |  August 09 2012, 2:00PM

    Well Big_Ger I would not agree that KernowCalling is a splinter group as we have not actually broken away from any other group or organisation.As for contacting us, we would have been able to give you the context to the email rather than allowing yourself to be swayed by sensationalist media hype during the silly season.

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  • wb2904  |  August 09 2012, 9:42AM

    'Cornish distinctiveness!' The only thing distinctive about Cornwall is its landscape - and that is being ruined by wind-farms.

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  • Big_Ger  |  August 09 2012, 9:37AM

    Who are kernow calling and why should I contact them rather than Mr Bell? Another splinter group with a facebook page and an agenda, Cornwall has enough of them! Anyway, let's not get distracted here, Visit Cornwall has some very good ideas for promoting tourism in the county, and as we have a wealth of culture and history to be marketed and promoted, it is only sensible that they should use Cornish distinctiveness to draw in the tourist pound/dollar/Euro.

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  • wb2904  |  August 09 2012, 9:17AM

    Anti-English sentiments will drive visitors away. The landscape is polluted with wind-farms anyway.

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  • kernowcallin  |  August 09 2012, 9:09AM

    Big_Ger you could just have asked KernowCalling for the answer. My colleague and I met with Malcolm Bell for an informal discussion about the way Visit Cornwall market the Duchy on the 3rd of July, Malcolm pointed out straight away that Cornwall is seen (by some) as part of England and Visit Cornwall would not be involved in political arguments .The discussion was about topics such as the use of the film Horn of Plenty, making more use of the Cornish Celtic identity,the Cornish language and history and culture and industrial heritage.Malcolm pointed out the figures for the visitor surveys showing a surprisingly high number of people who were aware of the Cornish language and culture and who wished to know more about it, and that many visitors had described Cornwall as unique. It was also discussed about making the most of Cornwall's uniqueness by replacing not banning the words county/England and instead using Duchy/Celtic/region and UK/Britain .The discussion was quite productive and Malcolm felt from a marketing point he could work with our ideas. The report of the meeting was posted on our wall on the 4th of July . On the 2nd of August Malcolm sent me an email which we posted that day about changes to the VC site,four days later it was picked up by Radio Cornwall who ran the story without mentioning the previous post on the 4th of July. Chris

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  • Big_Ger  |  August 08 2012, 10:42PM

    As one of those who e-mailed Mr Bell looking for clarification in this matter, I found his reply rather more pleasing than the original reporting of this matter. Of course we should look to use Cornish distinctiveness, in our history and culture as a way of drawing those interested in such matters into our county, and as a promotional tool for the tourist industry. Not to do so makes no sense at all.

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  • Jonny2010  |  August 08 2012, 7:48PM


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