Weston's reliance on tourism declining as town forges 'new identity'
PUBLISHED: 07:32 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:32 31 October 2017
Weston-super-Mare is 'moving away from its reliance on tourism', developing a new identity in music and food which could lead to enterprise growth, according to a town centre business leader.
Chairman of Weston Business Improvement District, Paul Batts, believes Weston is making a ‘natural progression’ from a seaside town dependent on holidaymakers and good weather to a more rounded offering which appeals to locals and tourists.
Mr Batts believes the town’s blossoming restaurant trade and burgeoning musical offerings, like the Hazy Days Festival, have helped its economy become more sustainable, offering potential for retail growth the town.
He told the Mercury: “Weston is moving away from its reliance on the tourism market, driven by good weather.
“Confidence seems to be returning within the property and development sector, with work commencing on the former BHS unit and planning applications being submitted for the former TJ Hughes and Bristol and West buildings, to name but a few.
“I think it is a natural progression. We have to understand where Weston has come from is a traditional seaside town, so on weekend and bank holidays lots of people come into the town for the seaside.
“But as the population grows – we’re overtaking Bath any time now – we should be more sustainable in our own right.
“There are some great businesses, there’s a lot to celebrate like the regeneration and development in independent quarters.”
The town centre has seen much change of late, with leisure complex Dolphin Square nearing completion, and the Winter Gardens and Italian Gardens undergoing makeovers.
But will Weston become home to more big-name retailers as it continues its progression from Victorian vacation destination to a more modern town?
Mr Batts said: “It’s difficult with some of the big guys because they’re purely dependant on footfall but Weston seems to be developing a bit of a musical identity and a food identity. Other things will be spin-offs from that.
“Things like Dolphin Square will be a big help. People in this area will think ‘do I really want to hack up the M5 to Cribbs Causeway on a Friday afternoon?’ when they can come into Weston to get some food and visit the shops as well.”