Tourism businesses demand more support from council
PUBLISHED: 13:22 28 October 2011
ATTRACTION owners in Weston have backed claims from Grand Pier owner Kerry Michael that the council needs to do more to support the area's tourism industry.
Last month Mr Michael criticised North Somerset Council for failing to provide enough support to businesses which bring in vital funds to the local economy.
Cllr Felicity Baker - the authority’s executive member for tourism - described the claims as ‘utter nonsense’ when quizzed on the topic at September’s full council meeting.
But more businesses have now spoken out against the council and called for it to do more to help Weston thrive in the future.
Puxton Park owner Derek Mead said he was sympathetic to Mr Michael’s complaints and said the council needed to help businesses get together and make Weston a holiday resort rather than a place for day trips.
He said: “I don’t disagree with what he is saying and I understand his frustrations having pumped a lot of money in.
“I think the council really need to work with hoteliers, restaurateurs and attractions of Weston and I think between us we really want to come up with a more robust strategy to promote Weston and North Somerset.
“They need to get their heads round that tourism is a big employer.”
Mr Mead said the more all-weather the attractions in Weston – such as the derelict Tropicana – the better because it would encourage more visitors without fear of a trip ruined by rain. And he called for more to be done to provide overnight accommodation to tourists of all ages and wealth.
He said: “Caravan parks can provide a quick solution to the problem of accommodation for our visitors but the provision of quality hotel stock should also be a priority for the local authority.
“The regeneration of the area as a modern tourist destination can only be achieved with the full support of North Somerset Council, it is not something that business can achieve alone.”
A spokesman for the Seaquarium echoed the pair’s views and called for the council to create a long-term plan to ensure the region remains economically healthy.
He said: “Support and investment from the local authority is vital if we are going to reverse the current trend of disappearing visitors.
“They need to create a 10-year plan supported with real investment and regular dialogue with stakeholders if tourism is going to survive in the area.”
Mr Michael said the West Country was a hub of UK tourism and the estimated £1billion boost it provides to the local economy, could not be lost.
A spokesman for Great City Attractions, operators of the big wheel, said the firm is ‘very happy’ with the help it received from the council but said more should done to atract a wider UK audience.