Scarborough Council agree new strategy to boost borough's tourism

Scarborough Council’s cabinet has backed a new strategy designed to bring visitors back to the borough following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillors today welcomed the new direction for the coast which aims to return the borough to pre-pandemic levels of tourism by the end of 2022.

The cabinet also heard that there were plans afoot to create a “Scarborough Fayre” year round cultural event that it was hoped would rival the Edinburgh Festival.

The towns of Scarborough, Whitby and Filey, as well as the many surrounding villages, have been devastated by the impact of the coronavirus and the national lockdowns that ensued.

Plans include the creation of a "Scarborough Fayre" to rival the likes of the Edinburgh Fringe.

In the average year, more than 10 million visits are made to the borough, contributing more than £800 million to the local economy but that was slashed in 2020 due to Covid-19. Almost half the jobs in the borough revolve around the industry.

The authority says it wants to encourage tourists to stay longer and explore more of what the borough has to offer by promoting its hidden gems, coastal and countryside villages and its beauty spots.

Other ideas include year-round festivals and events, as well as attracting conferences in order to mitigate drops in numbers out of season.

Cllr Liz Colling, the cabinet member for Inclusive Growth, told the meeting that she welcomed the focus on securing jobs for local people.

An average of 10 million visitors every year contribute about £800 million to Scarborough's economy.

She added: “I am particularly impressed with the idea that we have at our heart ‘the coast that cares’ and it is all about service to encourage repeat visitors and for people to recommend us by word of mouth.

“Also, the idea that we can reduce the seasonality across the borough and lead to secure year-round employment is always welcome.”

Cllr Jim Grieve said that other suggestions that had come back from the consultation involved ways of attracting more Islamic visitors to the coast so that the “Islamic pound” could become a growth market for the borough. Other ideas included the promotion of walking routes and the area’s historic nature, such as its links to Anne Brontë.

The new destination plan will cover the period until 2031, which will incorporate Scarborough’s 400th anniversary in 2026.

Scarborough Council’s strategy sets three targets for the borough. The first is to get back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022. The hope is then to see a 4 per cent annual increase in the value of tourism through 2025 before finally progressing to a 5 per cent annual increase each year until 2031.

At the same meeting the cabinet was also told of the progress towards creating a year-round cultural event that will be known as Scarborough Fayre, in a nod to the popular song.

A number of businesses and local representatives have been approached to be part of the planning for the project.

Council chief executive Mike Greene said he had big ambitions for the event.

He told councillors: “The ambition that we have around this project is to be in the same in the same league as things like the Edinburgh Festival and actually go big and really develop something which will be groundbreaking for years to come.”

The cabinet voted to adopt the new tourism strategy unanimously.