Running through six counties from London to Bristol, the Great West Way can be travelled by bike, road, rail, canal or on foot. It includes 500 miles of navigable routes along the Thames, Kennet and Avon Canal, the Great Western Railway, the A4, and numerous walking and cycling trails.
The challenge the Great West Way DMO set out to accomplish was to connect the rest of the world virtually to this wonderful destination—and inspire visitors to see it all in person.
With the support of the Simpleview team and technology, a new website was created to coincide with the official opening of England's Great West Way, a new multi-model touring route. The site, GreatWestWay.co.uk sets out to promote the touring route to both overseas and domestic visitors as a quintessentially English experience, taking visitors on a journey of discovery through some of England’s most picturesque countryside, thriving market towns and chocolate box villages.
The route covers three UNESCO sites (Kew Gardens, Stonehenge/Avebury and Bath), three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (the Chilterns, the Cotswolds and North Wessex Downs) and England’s most iconic attractions, including Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath’s Roman Baths, all of which are represented on the new site, with informative content and great inspirational imagery. The route's plethora of pubs, tearooms, breweries, vineyards and Michelin-starred restaurants, together with details on a whole range of places to stay, provide the visitor with a complete Great West Way information resource.
So, how does it all work you might wonder? The site is powered by the Tourism Aggregated Dataset UK (TAD-UK) from Simpleview (formerly New Mind | tellUs), which pools together contextual product data from destinations along the route including Devon, Bristol, Bath, Cornwall, Somerset, Windsor and Maidenhead. Regional DMS data from the South East and the South West has also been utilized for the project, delivering a shining example of technology assisting DMOs to work collaboratively.
Route planning and mapping are at the heart of the site's functionality. Bespoke tours can be created, with an option to add day excursions to other places of interest that are accessible from the route such as Salisbury, Stourhead and Cheddar Gorge. For visitors who want a helping hand, the Suggested Itineraries page features a comprehensive selection of themes to suit a variety of interests, which can also be saved and shared.
As Great West Way Director David Andrews points out, the platform is truly the first of its kind. “This new touring route joins-up many of England’s most iconic attractions, but also enables and encourages visitors to venture off the beaten track, explore more of the region and discover a whole gamut of quintessentially English experiences, all within one trip," he said.
As a testament to the power of the experience so far, The Great West Way is one of a number of successful projects to receive funding from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund, administered by VisitEngland.