Our towns ‘should develop own brands’

SCARBOROUGH – as well as Whitby and Filey – needs to market its own identity as a unique destination, according to one councillor.

Cllr Mike Ward raised his concern at Monday’s meeting of Scarborough Council’s Projects and Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Members were discussing a tourism report which detailed recent progress by the Moors and Coast Tourism Partnership.

Cllr Ward said tourism bosses needed to recognise the importance of brand marketing and there was a danger of the area’s impact being lost when it was promoted alongside other Yorkshire towns such as Helmsley, Thirsk and Pickering.

He added: “We have three destinations here. The spend of some of these days visitors is quite low. Quite a lot of people in holiday accommodation will bring their food from Asda in Middlesbrough or Leeds.”

Cllr Janet Jefferson, the portfolio holder for tourism and culture, said figures had shown the average spend had risen. She said: “The average spend is £28 per day and 49 per cent of people come here to spend and shop.”

She gave an example of one customer who had travelled to her shop from Thirsk and was then going to travel up to Whitby. “They travel 100s of miles, often by car, and they come here for all manner of things – not least the sea air,” she said.

Janet Deacon, who was recently appointed as an area director for tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, said destination marketing and a strong brand image was important.

She said: “That’s something that Welcome to Yorkshire have picked up on and are developing.”

Mrs Deacon added that campaigns and special offers for specific areas could be included in Yorkshire tourism websites.

Her new role is to raise the national and international profile of the North Yorkshire tourism office and increase visitor numbers.

Cllr Dorothy Clegg said that there was a danger of visitors being deterred by the number of empty shops.

Cllr Jefferson said that schemes to allow community groups to use empty shops could help the situation and added that Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre in Eastborough was a good example where a previously vacant unit was kept in use.

The report also revealed that the revamped Moors and Coast Tourism Partnership website received more than 256,000 hits and 65,439 referrals to providers own websites – and bookings totalling £51,505.