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Ground-breaking ‘Data Hub’ Project Contract Awarded for Devon and Somerset

Innovative project to provide a new way of measuring the impact of the visitor sector on the region

Acorn T-Stats has been awarded the contract to develop a ‘Data Hub’ for the tourism and wider visitor economy in Devon and Somerset. Funded by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and led by Destination Plymouth and some of the region’s key tourism partners this exciting new project will provide an innovative new way of measuring the impact of the visitor sector on the region.

The ‘Data Hub’ will be an online cloud-based tool to help businesses and organisations in the visitor economy sector understand who visits Devon and Somerset, how many visitors travel to the area and for what purpose as well as what their perceptions of the region are. The data captured will also help to measure the economic impact of the sector and understand what impacts local businesses in real-time as well as for forward planning. It is hoped that the insights gathered will also help businesses to forward plan their supply chain and staffing requirements as well as where to focus more effective marketing activity.

The ‘Data Hub’ is the product of extensive consultation with tourism businesses and organisations in Devon and Somerset, led by a steering committee of visitor economy experts representing the following organisations;

  • Destination Plymouth
  • English Riviera BID
  • TDA
  • Torbay Council
  • Visit Exeter
  • Visit Somerset
  • Visit Devon
  • Professional Association of Self Caterers
  • Visit Exmoor
  • Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Created specifically for tourism organisations and businesses in the wider visitor economy, it is the first product of its kind, bringing much needed real time data and insight to all, helping everyone involved make better decisions about marketing, planning, policy making and investing for the future.

Work on the project has already commenced. To find out more, sign up to a mailing list to keep up to date with progress, and for any enquiries please visit the website:

Kevin Millington, Director of Acorn T-Stats commented:

“Acorn T-Stats are thrilled to have been awarded the implementation and delivery of the data hub for the HotSWLEP region of Devon and Somerset. We will be applying over 10 years’ experience providing data tracking software to destinations, over 40 years combined experience in Tourism Consultancy, and the insightful research undertaken during the feasibility study to deliver this ground-breaking software service to the visitor economy in the region.”

David Ralph, Chief executive of the HotSWLEP said:

“Tourism and our visitor economy is one of the underpinning bedrock sectors throughout the Heart of the South West but particularly during and since the pandemic the industry has been going through tough times. As well as continuing to support reductions in VAT etc, we have looked at funding transformational support that will both increase productivity and improve the customer experience and could act as a model for other areas.

We hope that the Data Hub may serve this purpose. It is not easy, but it supports harnessing digital at the forefront of transformation. We have a great team and great businesses who we strongly believe will make this work.”

Amanda Lumley, Chief Executive of Destination Plymouth said:

“It is a privilege to lead this project for our partners here in Devon and Somerset. We are delighted that the Heart of the South West LEP has provided digital innovation funding to deliver the Data Hub and support a key objective for the visitor sector here in the South West. We hope that all our tourism businesses across the wider visitor economy will be able to use this to support their marketing and decision-making to be more productive and profitable.”


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      David Ralph

      Chief Executive

      David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

      Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

      David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.