NCTA hits the road!
Last week I undertook the first of my coastal ‘regional roadshow’ visits, meeting destination and business representatives in Sussex, Suffolk and Scarborough to highlight the work of the NCTA and get a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges for coastal destinations around England.
Whilst the coastal tourism industry is considered by many to be ‘fragmented’, what I found most striking on my visits was the level of co-operation and joint working taking place within, and between, destinations. Yes, there are forthright views and plenty of (constructive) discussion, but it is clear that there are a huge amount of passionate, dedicated and professional people working collectively to improve their particular area of the coast for the benefit of visitors and, ultimately, the visitor economy.
It was extremely beneficial to get a taste of the diversity of England’s coastal destinations and from the visits I had and meetings held, things are certainly looking positive. Whilst there is always the need for continued investment in physical infrastructure development, marketing and skills training, it is clear that progression is being made; whether through local, regional or national schemes (including of course the Coastal Communities Fund and Coastal Revival Fund) or private investment.
In Sussex I saw new hotel development in Eastbourne, seafront infrastructure work in Brighton & Hove and a beautiful ‘new’ pier in Hastings (a genius even had the foresight to use some of the old planks from the original pier which burnt down six years ago to clad a new visitor centre and roof-top café in the centre of the pier, giving a respectful ‘nod’ to the past). In Suffolk I saw first-hand the impressive regeneration of Ipswich's harbour area, whilst in Scarborough I was able to find out about how a huge ‘next generation’ waterpark will help maintain the Yorkshire coast’s position as a wonderful place for year-round holiday fun in years to come.
I am planning more visits to other areas of England’s coast over the coming months; if you would like to arrange a meeting in your destination, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org