St Albans tourism plans approved

St Albans City & District Council

St Albans City & District Council - Credit: Archant

A NEW tourism scheme to kick-start the district’s visitor economy was given the go-ahead at a district council cabinet meeting last week.

The approved tactic sets out a five-year plan on how the public, private sector and community can work together to attract more visitors to the area.

A Visitor Economy Advisory Board of representatives from different businesses involved in the visitor economy will be set up to deliver the strategy, which will culminate in 2018.

In 2010, 1.6 million visitors came to the district, generating an estimated visitor value of £160 million. The aim is to increase the number of visitors in five years time by around 40 per cent to 2.2 million and increase visitor value by 55 per cent to £250 million.

Plans to be carried out in the first year include introducing a course to help front-line staff in the visitor economy develop their skills, creating ‘Welcome to St Albans’ leaflets, attracting overseas tourists, and rectifying identified problems such as the lack of clear branding and effective co-ordination and partnership between attractions.

Research conducted last year suggested St Albans was not “punching its weight” in the visitor economy compared to its competitors such as Winchester and Salisbury.

The findings highlighted satisfaction with most of the district’s offerings to visitors, but discovered room for improvement in parking facilities and the tourist information centre.

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Separate plans to develop the Town Hall into a “cultural hub”, which will include a museum, gallery and visitor information service, will hopefully improve this latter issue.

Cllr Beric Read, portfolio holder for community engagement and localism at the council, said: “St Albans is a beautiful cathedral city with a rich Roman heritage that is surrounded by a wealth of local attractions. Research conducted by the council shows there is potential for St Albans’ visitor economy to grow significantly when compared with similar visitor destinations, such as Winchester.

“The strategy provides a plan of action for the council, businesses and community groups to capitalise on this potential by working together to boost visitor numbers.”