The Chairman informed the Panel that the Regeneration and Economic Development Manager would be leaving the Council. The Panel thanked the Regeneration and Economic Development Manager for his involvement and support to the Panel.
The Regeneration and Economic Development Manager presented the Panel with information on tourism, as attached and contained within the report which had been circulated in advance of the meeting.
The following was highlighted:
· The value of the visitor economy was significant and there had been an increase in visitors.
· Year on year comparisons were shown in the presentation.
· Lots of printed marketing material was produced as well as digital marketing including websites and apps. There had been an increase in hits on the Visit West Norfolk website and the apps were proving popular.
· Marketing material was sent to coach companies by the Tourist Information Centre and King’s Lynn was featured in coach magazines.
· Focussed marketing was also carried out including explorer trails for the Southern part of the Borough.
· The Council worked in partnership with local, regional and national organisations to promote West Norfolk.
The Chairman thanked the Regeneration and Economic Development Manager for his presentation and invited questions and comments from the Panel, as summarised below.
Councillor Crofts referred to coach trips and he felt that King’s Lynn should do more to promote coach trips to King’s Lynn. He explained that he had carried out some research and could not find many trips to King’s Lynn on coach operator websites. Councillor Crofts commented that one of the reasons for the lack of coach trips could be because King’s Lynn was not user friendly. He felt that more central coach parking was required which was close to the river front and historic core. Councillor Crofts also raised concern that the Council did not have a permanent Tourism Manager since the previous Manager had left the authority.
The Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Health, Councillor Mrs Nockolds commented that tourism was extremely important for King’s Lynn and she was proud of the work that the tourism department carried out. She commented that they worked hard and had taken on extra staff to work with the Tourism Support Officer. Councillor Mrs Nockolds explained that West Norfolk was promoted to coach companies. She provided a list of some of the operators to which marketing material was sent and commented that coach trips did come into King’s Lynn.
Councillor Smith asked if QR codes were used in marketing material. The Tourism Support Officer explained that there were apps which could be downloaded and QR codes had been used up until recently but this culture was now dying out. It was also noted that flyers had been produced to promote the apps and they were also referred to in written material.
Councillor Mrs Collingham asked Members if there was enough of an offer in King’s Lynn for visitors to spend the day. She did not think there was. She commented that the retail offer would not satisfy someone for a whole day and the historic buildings did not have facilities to attract people, for example a coffee shop.
The Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Health, Councillor Mrs Nockolds commented that the Discover King’s Lynn map did provide details of the historic buildings, was well used and visitors could walk certain trails. She felt that there was an offer for visitors and made reference to the light projections which drew visitors in for the evening. The Vice Chairman, Councillor Kunes reiterated the comments made by Councillor Nockolds and he commented that facilities were available in historic buildings and provided True’s Yard and the Corn Exchange as an example.
Councillor Smith commented that one of the draws to King’s Lynn could be that the historic buildings were still serving their original purpose rather than being commercialised and this could provide a much more authentic experience.
The Leader, Councillor Long referred to the app and explained that it contained information on where to eat and drink in King’s Lynn. He asked if the tourism department worked with the food hygiene department to ensure that places which were advertised were up to standard. The Tourism Support Officer explained that checks were carried out on an annual basis and only premises with a rating of three and above would be included on the app.
Councillor Crofts felt that although King’s Lynn was doing well with tourism, there was more that could be done including promoting King’s Lynn to more coach operators as he did not feel that King’s Lynn was represented as well as it should be.
The Chairman, Councillor Gidney commented that KL Magazine had a good archive of photographs which could be good to promote the area. In relation to the concerns raised by Councillor Crofts he asked officers to investigate if coach parking could be considered along Boal Quay.
The Chairman, Councillor Gidney made reference to some of the street traders in King’s Lynn and he felt that guidance to market traders should be provided on the appearance of their stalls. The Leader of the Council, Councillor Long commented that they did have to adhere to food hygiene criteria, but there were currently no standards in place relating to their appearance.
Councillor Mrs Collingham asked if coach operators had been contacted to ask why they did not choose King’s Lynn as a destination. The Regeneration and Economic Development Manager explained that marketing packages were sent to 64 leading coach companies. He suggested that some follow up work could be carried out by the Tourist Information Centre by phone.
Councillor Mrs Watson commented that visitors could come to King’s Lynn for either shopping or the historic area and that more promotion was required on the historic area. The Leader of the Council referred to the range of shops available in King’s Lynn and the decline of specialist independent retailers. He explained that the retail offer needed to appeal to the whole family in order for King’s Lynn to be a destination for shopping.
RESOLVED: 1. The Panel thanked the Regeneration and Economic Development Manager for his involvement in the Panel and wished him well in his new job.
2. The update was noted.