This week’s guest column comes from East Lindsey District Council leader Doreen Stephenson...
Over recent years the council has worked hard to help extend the season beyond the traditional six week school holiday in a bid to help businesses thrive and create permanent all-year round jobs for local people.
We have established a range of successful festivals and events throughout the year, including the hugely-popular SO Festival which draws visitors from not only the UK but also internationally, as well as the Festival of Bathing Beauties, Wolds Words Festival and East Lindsey Live programme.
We have also secured the AMCA Motorcycle Racing event which draws in over 20,000 visitors to Skegness and surrounding areas each year, providing a huge boost to the local economy in November – a traditionally quieter time of year for tourism businesses.
And, behind the scenes every year we carry out a huge marketing campaign aimed at attracting visitors to the area – this year we have allocated £160,000 to marketing the district.
We have to compete with other tourism hotspots so need to make sure we are on top of the game when it comes to marketing and promoting the district. Other organisations also work tirelessly throughout the year to promote the coast and countryside in East Lindsey, including Visit East Lincolnshire and the Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association (SECWHA) and much of our work is in partnership with them.
But, it is not just up to the council and tourism organisations to promote our district. Businesses need to promote themselves, and the area, too. They need to be vocal about what the area has to offer. To ensure ongoing success as one of the most visited areas in the country, we need to continue to have an excellent offer – fantastic attractions and meeting people’s needs and exceeding expectations are vital.
In the current economic climate, now is not the time to rest on our laurels, it is time to ask ourselves, ‘what more can we do?’. There are many national grant schemes available to help businesses expand, branch out and diversify, including our own Rural Development Fund which has already supported 19 businesses and three festivals and helped to create 54 new jobs in just 18 months.
Let’s make sure that we are in the limelight for all the right reasons, our award-winning beaches and beach donkeys, our fantastic seaside resorts and businesses keen to welcome visitors to the area and show them why they should return year after year.
I hope businesses have a successful summer season.