Request from Councillor Paul Beal
The Panel received a PowerPoint presentation from the Senior Tourism Officer, a copy of which is attached to the minutes.
The Panel was informed that the report highlighted the steady national and regional decline in traditional Tourist Information Centre (TIC) services and the lack of any clear link between an area not having a TIC and the level of tourism income to that area. It was explained that the report also set out the new options which had been set up in Hunstanton with regards to tourism enquiries.
The Senior Tourism Officer presented the report which was in response to a request from Councillor Beal and highlighted the key issues.
The Chair commented that he appreciated the extra work put into the report following the sifting meeting and also since the agenda was published. The presentation was not included with the Agenda, but the Senior Tourism Officer explained that it was an expansion of the report circulated with the Agenda. The Chair asked if it was therefore possible for Democratic Services to circulate the presentation after the meeting and added that it would have been useful to look at figures prior to meeting as questions may well arise from a closer examination of them.
Under Standing Order 34, Councillor de Whalley addressed the Panel and the Senior Tourism Officer responded in relation to questions regarding a staffed TIC as a unique selling point to promote tourism in Hunstanton.
Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Mrs E Nockolds addressed the Panel and stated that she considered the report to be an excellent report and added that she was aware of the increase in the number of website visitors. Councillor Nockolds commented that she herself was personally a fan of Tourist Information Centres (TICs) and provided an overview of the arrangements which had been put in place during the Pandemic. Councillor Nockolds also informed the Panel of the many different ways tourist information was available, for example, leaflets in Bed and Breakfast/hotel accommodation and from the Tourism Information Points in the Oasis and other venues within the Borough. Councillor Nockolds advised that the staff located at the Oasis had received training to provide specific tourist information to visitors. In conclusion, Councillor Nockolds commented that all businesses, etc in Hunstanton were ambassadors to promote tourism in Hunstanton and emphasised the importance of information being available on line and via leaflets, etc.
Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Rust addressed the Panel and highlighted the importance of information being available not just on the website, but alternative ways such as libraries, as there were a number of people who did not have access to online services. In response to further questions from Councillor Rust, the Senior Tourism Officer explained that prior to the Pandemic, the TIC in King’s Lynn moved to and merged with the Stories of Lynn, which provided a walk in advice service, and a variety of tourist information for the whole of West Norfolk, including Hunstanton.
Councillor Morley commented on the use of statistics and the mapping of the austerity and funding of the Borough Council against the decline of TICs. He asked if there was any evidence available that the internet enquiries relating to West Norfolk were directed to Hunstanton and commented on the importance of having a manned TIC in Hunstanton.
Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Beal addressed the Panel and read out a report (copy attached to the minutes) from the town of Hunstanton which he stated required scrutinising.
The Senior Tourism Officer responded to questions and comments from Councillor Beal in relation to:
• The steady national decline in traditional Tourist Information Centres and alternative ways of providing tourist information to visitors and the investment in digital ways of communicating.
• Case studies (set out in key issues of the report on page 16 of the agenda) – querying which businesses and associations were approached in Hunstanton regarding the TIC.
• External and internal signage to direct visitors to the Tourist Information Point at the Oasis Leisure Centre. It was reported that the signage had been delayed but was scheduled to be erected imminently.
• Staffed Tourism Information Centre based at the Stories of Lynn, King’s Lynn.
The Senior Tourism Support Officer responded to general questions from the Panel in relation to:
· Closure of TIC’s in other parts of the country.
· VisitEngland ceasing to accrediting TICs and all official ongoing TIC specific information resources.
· Information available at the Hunstanton Tourist Information point.
· Cost of providing a manned TIC.
· Statistics available to demonstrate the increase in website visitors in the country. The Senior Tourism Officer undertook to share the national statistics with the Panel.
In response to questions and comments from Councillor Mrs Spikings on the figure of 94% internet usage for the elderly and that the figure appeared high, the Senior Tourism Support Officer explained that the data had been obtained from national statistics would share the information with the Panel.
The Chair asked how the Panel would like to take this item forward to ensure that it was not lost.
Councillor Hudson commented that various accommodation venues in the country had leaflets to inform visitors of places to visit and could not see there being a case to afford the staff at a TIC, the cost of employment would be beyond the return.
Councillor Nash proposed that the Portfolio Holder for Business, Culture and Heritage speak to businesses in Hunstanton in order to gauge their view on the removal of a staffed TIC and that in 6 months’ time to invite the Portfolio Holder to attend the Corporate Performance Panel to debate the issue and if appropriate set up an informal working group to explore the issues raised. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Morley who added that he would support a group being set up to explore the issues raised and on being put to the vote this was carried.
The Chair thanked the Senior Tourism Officer for the presentation and report.
RESOLVED: 1) The Portfolio Holder for Business, Culture and Heritage be requested to meet with the businesses in Hunstanton.
2) The Portfolio Holder for Business, Culture and Heritage be invited to attend the Panel in 6 months’ time to present his perception of those views, and if appropriate set up an informal working group to explore the issues raised.