Portsmouth City Council launches Portsmouth Champions to turn residents into guides for the city's attractions
KNOW which ships you can see at the Historic Dockyard? Know when Gunwharf Quays is open? If you need a Portsmouth hot-spot refresher, the council has launched a new scheme to fill the city with impromptu tour guides ahead of this summer.
The ‘Portsmouth Champions’ scheme, comprising a free online course with a certificate at the end, aims to turn residents into Portsmouth experts, ready to impress any tourist looking to take in the city’s sights.
The scheme hopes to boost the city’s attractions as they reopen for visitors, with Spinnaker Tower welcoming back guests last Friday, and the Historic Dockyard revealing a new £1.4 million exhibition on HMS Victory when it reopened earlier this month.
Adding to the investment into the city, The Queens Hotel in Clarence Parade unveiled and opened its revamped restaurant last week, as part of a £4.4m redevelopment across the hotel.
With a large number of Brits expected to plan staycations this year, Portsmouth City Council has reopened its visitor information point at the Hard and will have customer advisors along the seafront across the summer, according to Visit Portsmouth's tourism and marketing manager, Jane Singh.
Attractions need all the help they can get to bounce back from the previous ‘terrible’ 12 months, she said: ‘When I speak to hoteliers across the city, they say bookings increased when events like Goodwood and Victorious were announced.
‘But places are looking at trade at 30 per cent to 50 per cent compared to a normal year.’
Visiting the LCT landing craft exhibit at the D-Day Story museum in Southsea, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan called on people to show ‘pride’ in their city by rallying around the city’s attractions hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MP said: ‘It’s been an incredibly difficult year for the tourism industry in Portsmouth and across the country.
‘We know it contributes over £6m to our city’s economy, and 13,000 jobs rely on tourism.
‘That’s why I launched my Pride in Portsmouth Campaign to encourage people to get out and about and feel confident again to visit our fantastic city attractions.
‘We’ve got such strong community spirit in Portsmouth, we’re proud to live in Portsmouth. Spend that pound in Portsmouth – it will go that much further spending it locally in our city.’
Ewan Cole, a museum and visitor services officer for the LCT exhibit, added: ‘We can hold our own against any museum in Britain or abroad.
‘The museum was renovated in 2018, and a lot of residents have not seen it year.
‘We very often get a lot of comments from people saying they had not visited the museum in years.
‘Now is an ideal time.’
Anyone can take part in the free Portsmouth Champions course at portsmouthchampions.co.uk.