Academic experts have discussed their views on the much lamented issue of Skegness’s economy and the best ways to improve it.
University professors and economic consultants discussing the subject at the Mayor of Skegness’s Legacy Lecture held at Meanie BoBini’s last Tuesday supported many of the existing approaches while adding several of their own.
Professor Nigel Curry from the University of Gloucestershire felt the outlook was ‘quite promising’ due to the £500 million generated by East Lindsey’s tourism economy and the resort’s status as the fifth most visited place in Britain.
“But how do we build on that?” he asked.
Like many tourism representatives, councillors and businesses, before him, Prof Curry highlighted the need to diversify the tourism offer and extend the season as two of the foremost drivers for success.
“By diversifying the tourism product so there is a wider range of things to do a greater number of people will want to come and visit,” he said.
“But at the same time it is important to remain distinctive - there’s no point trying to become another Ternerife - let’s find the best of our local assets and see what we can do with them.”
Green tourism, business conferences and a greater focus on speciality foods were highlighted as potential ways to diversify the current offer.
However, regeneration expert Ivan Annibal warned against unchecked attempts at diversifying, which he feared could weaken the existing product.
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” he said.
Mr Annibal also said that Skegness was the most seasonal town in Britain, which Proff Curry felt could be addressed with the introduction of festivals during the quieter period.
Highlighting Cheltenham as an example, where various cultural festivals spanning music,dance and food, ran for 89 days of the year, generating £127 million for the economy, Prof Curry said such events were an important part of extending the season.
Lowering business rates and rents were other options which have been regularly raised in Skegness.
Though supportive of such measures in principal, Prof Curry felt that it in practice they left too many questions about where the money would come from to win his backing.
One novel idea yet to have been considered in Skegness was that of a unique currency for the resort.
Towns such as Brighton, Stroud and Brixton have introduced their own currency, which is intended to support the economy by retaining money in the area.
Prof Curry also said there were social benefits to such schemes as it helped develop a greater sense of identity in the town.