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Norwegian delegates visit Ironbridge to learn about successfully running World Heritage Site

By Mat Growcott | Ironbridge | Telford entertainment | Published:

Norwegian tourism leaders visited Ironbridge to learn more about how to successfully manage a World Heritage Site.

Delegates from Norway visit the Iron Bridge

The 18 delegates from the World Heritage City of Notodden and Rjukan near Oslo in Norway chose Ironbridge Gorge for their international best practice study tour.

The focus of the tour was for the group to experience the destination at first hand and to understand how Ironbridge Gorge is managed both as a World Heritage Site but also as a tourism engine.

The three day study tour organised with support from Telford & Wrekin Council’s Destination team and Ironbridge Gorge Museums included learning how the Ironbridge Gorge is marketed domestically and internationally, the key visitor audiences, managing tourism sustainably and future initiatives to grow tourism in such a competitive industry.

The Ironbridge Gorge was one of the UK’s first places to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1986.

During the trip, the delegates met with Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Visitor Economy and the World Heritage site Carolyn Healy.

Vicky Mikalsen, World Heritage co-ordinator of Notodden municipality. said: “Ironbridge and Rjukan-Notodden are both industrial sites on the World Heritage list, and together we cover the first and second industrial revolution.

“Being a world heritage site for only four years, the Experience Notodden business network, wanted to learn from Ironbridge as an experienced world heritage site.

“Through three full days we have learnt about management, funding, branding, target groups, tourism and business strategies, development of experience packages, challenges in infrastructure, new trends, not to mention experiencing the impressive amount of volunteering at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the nearby attraction of Severn Valley Railway.

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Amazing

“The outcome of our study trip has been very fruitful due to our common ground, and the competent and warm welcome by our hosts in the Ironbridge Gorge.

“We believe that a further co-operation can provide real advantages for both sites and countries, and in more areas than business and travel development that was our main focus during this trip.”

Councillor Healy said: "Ironbridge Gorge is a truly amazing visitor destination, but we cannot rest on our laurels and there is much scope for us take a much more co-ordinated approach to tourism to attract more visitors, staying longer and experiencing more of the Gorge and to extend our tourism season with positive environmental impact.

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"As the Cabinet Member responsible for Visitor Economy and World Heritage, I am delighted that the tourism leaders from Experience Notodden chose the UK and Ironbridge Gorge for their best practice study tour.

“When you consider that there are over 1,121 World Heritage Sites across 167 countries, it was a massive privilege to be chosen for this event.“

The group visited the Iron Bridge, as well as as Maws Craft Centre, Blists Hill, the Museum of Iron and a host of others.

They also explored its natural icons including the 700 acre heritage landscapes managed by Severn Gorge Countryside Trust.

Councillor Healy added: “Clearly we have a lot in common with the World Heritage City of Rjukan and Notodden but we also have a lot to learn from one another and an opportunity for cross border business development

“I like to think that Ironbridge can attract new visitors from Norway on the back of this visit and that people from Telford and Wrekin will also visit the Notodden area.

“We were inspired by some of the initiatives made by these two world heritage sites in Norway and how they have embedded World Heritage status into every part of the destination making it a huge source of pride and promotion for their businesses and their residents.”

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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