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Decision details

Visit Cambridge Destination Management Organisation

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No


1. Approve the establishment of Visit Cambridge as a legally incorporated destination management organisation
2. Approve the City Council's representation on the Board of Visit Cambridge
3. Approve Visit Cambridge's proposal to appoint an official walking tours partner(s)


Matter for Decision

This paper sets out the work being undertaken by the Council and its partners, Cambridge BID, Fitzwilliam Museum Enterprises (trading arm of the University of Cambridge) and King’s College, to establish a new destination management organisation (DMO), following the closure and liquidation of the former DMO (Visit Cambridge and Beyond) in July 2020. 


The four partners had established an DMO ‘working group’ and brand known as ‘Visit Cambridge’, using the former VCB branding and other intangible assets, which they successfully acquired last autumn.  The working group has identified the need for the new DMO to be legally incorporated to enable it to be independent and effectively fulfil its organisational development and management needs, including business banking, entering into legal agreements/ contracts and procuring goods and services to support its DMO function and the recovery and development of a sustainable visitor economy. 


The Officer’s report set out the proposed business case for the new DMO and its proposed incorporation as a Community Interest Company (CIC), informed by learning from the former VCB business model performance and the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the city’s visitor economy.  The decision to pursue CIC incorporation was informed by independent legal advice sought by both the Visit Cambridge working group and, separately, by the Council.


Subject to the Council supporting the incorporation of Visit Cambridge as a CIC, the Visit Cambridge working group is inviting the Council to nominate a representative to sit as a company director.  Based on legal advice and the predominantly operational nature of the DMO business, the Officer’s report recommended the Council nominated an Officer, rather than elected Member, to sit as a Director on the CIC Board.


Decision of Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre

  i.  Approved the establishment of Visit Cambridge as a Community Interest Company (CIC).

  ii.  Delegated authority to the Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities to complete all practical, financial and legal matters to enable Visit Cambridge CIC to be established including approval of the final form of all necessary legal documentation.

  iii.  Approved the City Council's officer representation on the Board of Visit Cambridge CIC, with the officer nominee decision to be delegated to the Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities.


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities.


Opposition Councillors made the following comments in response to the report:

  i.  It was important to have a fixed place where people could find tourist information in the city.

  ii.  Requested that more than 1 councillor was appointed to the stakeholder group so that representation could be cross-party.

  iii.  Queried how to get a net positive impact of tourism on the city and environment.


The Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  An independent Community Interest Company was being set up, it was not for the City Council to dictate to the independent company what it should do. Would pass on councillors’ request that more than one councillor was invited to participate in the stakeholder group, but it was up to the Community Interest Company to make operational decisions.

  ii.  Most tourists to the city were local or from the region. International tourism had declined since lockdown. There were things the council could do to encourage sustainable tourism such as encouraging tourists to stay longer and not make short trips.

  iii.  Tourism was important to the city economy. For example it provided jobs and revenue for cultural venues.


The Committee resolved by 9 votes to 0 with 1 abstention to endorse the recommendations.


The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

Publication date: 05/11/2021

Date of decision: 07/10/2021