East Lincolnshire tourism leaders expect ‘exciting’ season after launching new marketing campaign

Skegness beach is among the many tourist attractions industry leaders have been promoting more widely.
Skegness beach is among the many tourist attractions industry leaders have been promoting more widely.

Coastal tourism leaders have ‘upped their game’ this year in a bid to attract more holidaymakers than ever before with the region’s most far reaching marketing campaign to date.

The East Lincolnshire Destination Management Organisation - a public, private partnership supporting the region’s tourism industry, announced its latest plans to boost the visitor economy at a briefing held last week.

Speaking at Butlin’s, Ingoldmells, on Friday, resort director and DMO chairman Chris Baron said: “Tourism in East Lindsey is worth half a billion pounds and the employment, according to the narrowest definition, accounts for 20 per cent of the jobs here, so it’s absolutely vital that we are successful.

“We want our visitors to be aware of the whole package when they come here, it’s not about attracting people once, it’s about attracting them a second and third time and the DMO is essential in achieving that.”

The DMO hopes to expand its traditional visitor base by spending £27,550 on its first advertising campaign in the West Midlands.

Thanks to improved transport connections, much of the region is now within the coast’s critical two and a half hour catchment area deemed worthy of targeting.

Alongside traditional print advertising in Birmingham, Nuneaton and Northampton, it has also established a 52 week bus campaign across routes in Walsall, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich to direct potential visitors to its websites.

East Lindsey District Council’s tourism manager Alison Macdonald said: “This is something new, we’ve not done it before and we would not be doing it if we did not have the DMO members.”

Hoteliers have already reported an increase in bookings from the West Midlands, which the DMO has taken as proof of the campaign’s success.

A £10,000 deal with Visit England has provided further widespread coverage with content on its website and thematic campaigns focusing on the ‘Great English Seaside’ and ‘Active outdoors’.

Visit England has also awarded Skegness its prestigious ‘Attract Brand’ status, meaning it will feature in advertising campaigns showcasing the nation’s best visitor offers.

Mr Baron believes the region’s beneficial relationship with the tourist board was only possible because of the DMO, which he says has boosted its national credibility.

The working relationship also triggered participation in English Tourism Week, which began on March 16 and runs until March 16, to promote the region’s attractions to visitors and local residents through special offers and further advertising campaigns.

“It’s about celebrating everything that’s great about tourism in England and hammering home that message to our residents,” said Ms Macdonald.

The DMO also highlighted the importance of expanding the tourist offer beyond the traditional ‘bucket and spade’ attractions to include green tourism and the region’s heritage, citing the recently launched aviation guides as an example of this in action.

Further positives announced included an extended print run for the annual Skegness and Mablethorpe visitor guides produced in partnership with Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association, and a new presence at consumer and trade shows across the country.

However, the DMO members were keen to stress that marketing was not their only focus, explaining they were also working to up-skill the local workforce and tap into pockets of funding.

Highlighting the off-putting dangers of poor customer service, Mr Baron said: “There’s absolutely no point in attracting people here if we’ve not got the right product to sell them when they get here.”

The DMO was created in the wake of Visit Lincolnshire’s collapse more than two years ago, with the aim of filling its void with greater focus on the east of the county than its predecessor had offered.

With more than 20 fully subscribed members, Mr Baron believes it has already helped unify the region’s major operators under a common aspiration and holds high hopes for its future.

“We would not be as far forward as we are now with the DMO,” he said.

“The relationship between local businesses is far better than it was years ago and it has also created a far better relationship with ELDC - two or three years ago there was a lot of us and them mentality but those barriers have been broken down so that moves us forward a lot further.

“We’ve not seen any detrimental effects from the loss of Visit Lincolnshire because we understand the area much better so it has been a major step forward.”