Tourism worth ‘at least £500m for this area’

Chris Baron, director of Butlins, Skegness. EMN-140205-155836001
Chris Baron, director of Butlins, Skegness. EMN-140205-155836001

The boss of Butlins, Skegness, Chris Baron has rejected oft-made claims that tourism is a ‘Cinderella’ industry.

Addressing the media at a meeting he said the ‘visitor economy’ was worth ‘at least a billion pounds to Lincolnshire and half a billion to East Lindsey’.

Mr Baron said tourism had grown throughout the recession and was continuing to generate opportunities across retailing, catering, finance, construction and other sectors of economic activity.

“While it is true that some of the employment is at minimum wage levels, there are also many highly paid jobs,” he continued. “There is no shortage of career pathways.”

To those doomsayers who claim that Skegness is ‘dying’, he had a message: “That is emphatically not the case - the town is more vibrant than at any time in the 55 years I have lived here.

“It is also nonsense to say, as do some, that the Environment Agency is hostile to the development of tourism businesses on the Lincolnshire Coast. But it is important that restrictive planning must not be an impediment to investment.”

Although upbeat about tourism’s prospects, Mr Baron emphasised the continuing importance of training - for instance in hospitality where personal interactions have the power to make or break a holiday.

He also looked forward both to the creation of more niche holidays, such as cycle touring, and to East Lindsey attracting more national companies on the basis that competition is healthy and that ‘success stimulates success’.

Similar sentiments were sounded by the leader of ELDC, Coun Doreen Stephenson, who has always been a champion of tourism.

“I have never been more confident of exciting times ahead for the district,” she enthused.

The duo were talking at a recent gathering held at Woodthorpe Hall, near Alford.