Jason Smith is the new boss at Marketing Gloucester, the people tasked with putting our city on the map. Reporter Mike Wilkinson caught up with him as he sets out his vision for his home city.
WHEN Munster came to Gloucester earlier this month, there was arguably more excitement in the city than there was on the pitch.
Gloucester was alive with carefully-crafted events all around the city to coincide with the mass-invasion of Munster fans.
As I chat with Jason, he proudly flicks through pictures of two of his five sons enjoying themselves with a stilt walker during the festivities.
The smartly-dressed 45-year-old is unequivocally proud of his lads – and the same can be said for his city too.
He is a Glawster lad-done-good, having globe-trotted around the world, working in the worlds of publishing and advertising and selling his firm for a whopping £11.5million.
But things have come full circle for him and he admits he was ‘delighted’ when he was given the top job at Marketing Gloucester, the organisation tasked with putting our city on the map.
The Old Cryptian knows a thing or two about his home city. His great-grandfather Joshua Rigby ran the JW Rigby and Sons Fishmongers stall at Eastgate Market back in the day.
Joshua’s son John – Jason’s grandfather – was president of the Chamber of Trade.
Jason said: “John went to The Crypt School and 50 years to the month that he joined, I was also heading to The Crypt. He was a man with great civic pride and gave me a good understanding of the city.
“When you are brought up in Gloucester you are taught so much history about our city and you think that it must be like that everywhere, but actually it’s not. We are very lucky to have so much history to our name. We have to shout about that.
“For me what we did with the Munster game was the perfect model. Everybody worked together to run events and offers for tourists and residents alike and it was very busy all over. The city was buzzing.
“That is certainly a model we would like to repeat in the future.”
The Rugby World Cup in 2015 could be a huge turning point for the city, Jason says. “It is a good thing for the city. We want to co-ordinate the events that will be happening across Gloucester.
“Many of the guests that will be arriving could be potential investors of the future, so we are hoping that everyone will treat them well.”
Jason doesn’t buy the idea that Gloucester has a bad reputation. He points to the Trip Advisor website where tourists are raving about their visits to the city. He said: “It is very powerful so we take a close look at what people are saying on there. Gloucester does pretty well really.”
He also points to gross value added measures of the economy. “The economy was cruising until 2007 when it crashed by some 15 per cent. We were not far behind Cheltenham at the time and I reckon we have since closed the gap.
“Our city is in a unique position because we have got a lot going on and we are seeing a huge whack of private investment too.
“We have every reason to be proud of Gloucester.”