CS22: Tourism Strategy

 

CS22: Tourism Strategy

North Somerset

Visitor facilities and accommodation will be supported across the district provided they :

1) are of an appropriate scale and improve the quality and diversity of the tourist offer;

2) do not result in a significant increase in car use and where possible maximise any opportunities for alternative means of access;

3) support conservation and economic development objectives; and

4) there are no adverse implications for the environment, local amenity and character of the area.

Weston-super-Mare

In Weston-super-Mare the focus will be on encouraging proposals that support the development of a vibrant, modern town within the South West with a broad appeal. This will be achieved through

1) Diversifying the range and improving the quality of attractions and activities in Weston-super-Mare to appeal to a broader range of visitors.

New visitor attractions will be expected to:

a) Comply with a sequential approach which firstly identifies sites within the town centre or seafront;

b) Be of high quality environmental standards in terms of design and access;

c) Support the regeneration of the town centre;

d) Improve the range of year-round attractions;

e) Offer a high quality visitor experience and value for money.

2) Improving the range and quality of accommodation including hotels. All visitor accommodation will be encouraged to obtain national quality accreditation and to adopt sustainable tourism principles.

This policy contributes towards achieving Priority Objectives 4 and 5.

Background

The geographical location of North Somerset makes it an attractive tourist destination. Its combination of coastal setting, beautiful countryside, accessibility via the M5 and Bristol airport, and close proximity to Bristol, the city of Bath (a world heritage site), Cheddar Gorge, Wells and the rest of Somerset make it a versatile location which could appeal to a wide tourist market.

In 2000 North Somerset Council began work on a 20-year tourism strategy known as 'Blue Skies'. The aim of the research was to find out the views of stakeholder groups, look at tourism trends nationally and regionally, and create a vision for the future of tourism to which most stakeholders could subscribe and support. The Blue Skies Tourism Strategy sets out a vision for the district stating that "North Somerset will take advantage of its geographical location and the growth areas in tourism to ensure that tourism is a high quality, profitable and sustainable activity".

Weston-super-Mare has traditionally been the main tourist destination within the district, but changes to the tourism industry over the last ten years mean that Weston's role for tourism needs to be redefined. Weston-super-Mare's largest market is currently day visitors and this market is growing. The Weston-super-Mare Visitor Survey 2007 shows that 69% of visitors to the resort are day visitors compared to 58%in 2005 indicating a general upward trend in day visitor numbers.

The Core Strategy approach

North Somerset:

The tourism focus for North Somerset will be to promote and enhance its role as a centre for regional and sub-regional activities and events, capitalise on its outstanding natural environment through the sustainable promotion of outdoor activities and pursuits and emphasis its excellent location as base for exploring the other attractions within the sub-region.

Weston-super-Mare:

Visitors now expect a wider range of attractions and events with more activities such as sport, good shopping, restaurants and evening entertainment. If Weston-super-Mare is to compete effectively as a tourism destination, it needs to develop specific experiences and attractions to appeal to its day visitor market, as well as looking to attract staying visitors. The natural amphitheatre of the beach and beach lawns is excellent for holding events as demonstrated through existing successful events in the town such as the T4 music concert and the Beach Race. Maximising these natural assets as well as developing and promoting niche activities such as adventure sports, will give Weston specific tourism identity.

Tourists on Weston Beach

Equally, attractions also need to be provided which reduce seasonality through providing year-round, all weather family attractions and developing activities which are not weather dependant.

New attractions should firstly be located in the town centre and seafront to contribute to the regeneration of the town centre. A sequential approach will be taken to leisure development in the town to ensure such uses contribute to the vibrancy and vitality of the town centre and are in the most sustainable locations with easy access by public transport. As well as attracting more visitors and in turn increased spending in the town, the design and integration of any new attraction within the town are equally important factors and should be taken into account.

Tourist accommodation in Weston-super-Mare is generally low quality and improving the quality of accommodation is an objective of the Blue Skies Tourism Strategy. There is a strong link between the quality and range of attractions that the town has to offer and the level and quality of tourist accommodation that is provided. Higher quality tourist accommodation, including a 3 or 4 star hotel within the town, is likely to be provided alongside new attractions and if more people are being attracted to the town there will be increased demand for better tourist accommodation.

How and where the policy will be delivered

In accordance with the Blue Skies Strategy the increase in tourism activities will be concentrated at Weston-super-Mare. However, provided proposals do not conflict with Green Belt, sustainable development and environmental policies, then an increase in tourism will be supported throughout the district.

By seeking to improve the quality and range of tourist accommodation and facilities, visitor numbers and satisfaction levels will increase and have a positive effect on the local economy.

Working together with tourism professionals, local businesses and other partners a co-ordinated approach to promoting tourism while protecting the environment of the district will be undertaken.

Alternative options and contingency planning

The alternative approach to tourism in North Somerset would be not to focus on Weston-super-Mare as the primary location of attractions and events. The problem with this approach is that:

  • it would not take positive steps to achieve the objective of developing sustainable tourism through locating tourist attractions and accommodation close together within easy walking distance of each other, or easily accessible by public transport; and
  • within Weston-super-Mare it would not take positive steps towards raising the quality and diversity of attractions which would fail to lift the image and profile of the town.

Monitoring and review

Monitoring will assess visitor numbers, accommodation, events and attractions across the district.