Interview to Ginette Goulston-Lincoln, Travel Trade Consultant at Strawberry Field, Liverpool
1. Strawberry Field is the latest addition to Beatles tourism. Tell us what this new Liverpool attraction offers – visitors 60,000 annually came to the gates before you opened on September 14.
This is a wonderful new addition to venues such as The Beatles Story and The Cavern Club, and unmissable for true fans. The former Salvation Army children’s home and its gardens at Strawberry Field lie behind famous red wrought-iron gates, which for many years were a mecca for thousands of Beatles fans. But they couldn’t get beyond and into the property. Now that has changed, and there are so many positives. It’s just around the corner from John Lennon’s home, Mendips. That’s why young John spent so much time playing there during an often difficult childhood. Strawberry Fields Forever, the 1967 hit, was a result, and John’s favourite of all his songs.
The new site offers an interactive visitor exhibition and garden tour with media guides in multiple languages, the Imagine More Cafe and shop. The interactive exhibition is the place where “nothing is real!” Stories are told of the site’s history, John’s childhood, and the writing and recording of the famous song as told by John’s close friends and family. At the heart of the visitor experience are the gardens, where John played as a child – “no one I think is in my tree” is a line from the song. Your visitors will be following in John’s footsteps.
2. How important is the Responsible Tourism aspect?
What has powered Strawberry Field is the Steps to Work programme run by the Salvation Army. This helps young adults aged 18-25 with learning disabilities and other barriers to employment to learn new skills and gain work experience. The Salvation Army owns the site and ran the original children’s home until 1973. In the 2000s, they saw that they could fund youth training and continue the legacy of care if they opened those iconic gates to the public. So this new creation perpetuates the tradition of giving young people their best chance in life. Strawberry Field has partnered with The City of Liverpool College to create and deliver courses that run four days a week, and feature work placement. The sectors involved include hospitality, retail, customer service, catering and gardening. Strawberry Field makes a great past of caring for the community meet the future, through Steps to Work and the training hub. The programmes delivered are totally funded from revenues from the exhibition, cafe, shop sales and donations.
Strawberry Field is a great example of Responsible Tourism in action. Its social role twinned with its historical importance combine educational, cultural and spiritual elements.
3. How do you think ETOA membership will help you achieve your business objectives?
We are looking forward to an active relationship with members of ETOA, and will be very responsive to interest in this exciting new attraction. ETOA businesses shouldn’t hesitate to tweet, email or call for more information or bookings.
If Liverpool and the Beatles are not already destinations for operators, we would love to discuss and explore possibilities with you, and answer any of your questions.
As it’s a new attraction, members might want to know how it can be used, and what interest markets should be targeted. Apart from the obvious Beatles lure, there’s also appeal for those wishing to explore gardens and British heritage sites. Visitors seeking a peaceful, meaningful environment can also enjoy the setting, grounds and many nooks to sit and dream, so there is appeal for wellness tours. Choirs and faith groups will also find this a wonderful place. The social responsibility aspect, as explained above, will be appealing to many. For Lennon fans, they will be able to move ever closer to the mind and inspiration of this great musician. We’ve already seen strong interest from North American markets and Brazil, and now French and Spanish operators are coming aboard.