Superfast broadband’s confirmed arrival has given a major coastal business the confidence to invest millions in new projects, creating jobs and enhancing the region’s tourism appeal.
Fantasy Island says Ingoldmells’ inclusion in a wireless technology pilot scheme, bringing vastly improved internet speeds, will deliver the resort from the ‘dark ages’ into the 21st century.
“The arrival of superfast broadband has enabled us to do things that would not have been possible otherwise,” said chief executive Laurence Davis.
“We are spending well over a million pounds at Fantasy Island this year and intend to spend around the same next year on projects that will create jobs and improve the resort.
“Had we not known that broadband would be arriving, I think our criteria for investing would have been put off for at least a couple of years.”
Mr Davis says the future of the resort is very much geared towards embracing digital technology, which was impossible to achieve before the wireless pilot scheme was approved with £300,000 of European Regional Development Fund money.
“This will herald the opportunity for us to communicate properly with our public and drive footfall,” he said.
“It will mean the difference between us being in the dark ages to being able to compete with our rivals on a level playing field.”
The region’s first Domino’s Pizza restaurant, which is hoped to open the site later this month, was also dependent on the arrival of broadband.
Nationally, much of its business is generated through online orders, and so, without a reliable, high speed interent connection, Mr Davis says he would not have been able to justify the venture’s £400,000 costs, jeopardising the 60 jobs it is expected to create.
Fantasy Island will also launch a radio-frequency identification (RFID) scheme, so that data can be transferred around the park wirelessly to and from customers.
Park visitors will be sent messages via a chip in their wristband or a smartphone app publicising special offers and events on the resort. The technology will also allow pictures of customers enjoying the rides to be automatically delivered, which they can then share via social media.
“It open up a whole new dimension for us on social media, which is probably the fastest growing source of advertising and a great medium for us to deliver traffic to our site,” Mr Davis said.
Surrounding businesses are also expected to benefit from Fantasy Island’s new technology, which Mr Davis says will be able to direct customers towards nearby accommodation or other service providers.
The wireless technology pilot will enable internet users in Ingoldmells, Chapel St Leonards, Willoughby and Sloothby to access services of up to 50Mb/s by Autumn this year, to be provided by private provider AB Internet.
Lincolnshire County Council’s ward holder for Ingoldmells Rural Coun Colin Davie has praised local residents and businesses for demonstrating the desire for the scheme, which he believes was the key to its success.
He said: “The announcement that Ingoldmells, Chapel st Leonards and Willoughby with Sloothby are to get superfast broadband later this year through an independent wireless provision is fantastic news for all my residents and businesses in the area.
“It is thanks to the support of the local community, and its demand for such a service, that my lobbying on their behalf has delivered this result. It is indeed very, very welcome”.
The scheme forms part of Lincolnshire County Council’s announcement this morning that its plans to bring superfast broadband to 88 per cent of the county by 2016 have been confirmed following a multimillion pound deal with BT.