Scarborough council set to agree strategy to encourage visitors to the borough
The process of trying to entice visitors back to the Yorkshire Coast after the Covid-19 pandemic is set to begin tomorrow.
Scarborough Council’s cabinet is due to agree a new visitor strategy and action plan that aims to return the borough to pre-pandemic levels of tourism by the end of 2022.
The town’s 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.
In the average year, more than 10 million visits are made to the borough, contributing more than £800 million to the local economy.
The overall aim of the new strategy is to increase the value of tourism to the borough so that it has a positive impact on residents and businesses but does not affect the environment or damage local communities.
Scarborough Council says it is keen to build on existing traditional markets and at the same time look to attract additional aspirational, and affluent visitors, to the Yorkshire coast.
One of the key objectives of the strategy is to encourage tourists to stay longer and explore more of what the borough has to offer.
This would be achieved by promoting its hidden gems, coastal and countryside villages and its beauty spots.
Other ideas include year-round festivals and events in order to mitigate drops in numbers out of season.
The new destination plan will cover the period from now until 2031, which will incorporate Scarborough’s 400th anniversary in 2026.
An early target is to return the local visitor economy to pre-2020 levels by the end of 2022 and then look to increase the value by 4 per cent year-on-year.
Speaking last year, when the strategy was first announced, Cllr Liz Colling, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, said: “The importance of the visitor economy to our borough can’t be overstated.
“Many of our residents have jobs connected to the tourist industry, so it’s vital our plans for growing this part of the economy are as good as they can be.
“This new strategy – while ambitious for the borough – builds on the fantastic attractions and the stunning Yorkshire coast that we are already famed for.
“If we can capture more of the staycation market in future years it will be a shot in the arm for us.”
A report prepared for the cabinet when it meets tomorrow states that it is estimated that 47 per cent of Scarborough’s population is employed as a result of tourism.
Nationally the tourism sector was hit very hard by the pandemic with 87 per cent of businesses seeing a decrease in turnover in 2020.
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.
To do this year-round events are planned as well as trying to attract conferences back to the borough.
The cabinet report states: “Events are going to be critical in supporting recovery post-Covid.
“The strategy highlights the importance of events and festivals in extending the season and raising the profile of the destinations. The strategy recommends the development of a borough-wide events strategy, which will identify existing year-round events that have the power to attract visitors and increase tourism revenue as well as animating the destination for the benefit of residents and visitors.
“The strategy also suggests that it may be useful to consider proposed themes to determine if there are opportunities to develop new themed events which could be small to medium, targeting niche markets and special interest groups.”
It adds: “The strategy also highlights the need to develop and deliver plans aimed at attracting groups, conferences and events, and international visitor markets all of whom, due to the Covid pandemic, will be looking for wide open spaces and unique venues.”
The cabinet will discuss the strategy when it meets tomorrow.