Spotlight on Boston tourism
Cllr Claire Rylott, Boston Borough Council's leisure services portfolio holder, seized an opportunity during a chance meeting to invite Halina Davies, Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership's growth plan project manager, on a whistle-stop tour of Boston to gain a greater understanding of how it might contribute further to the visitor economy.
Halina has responsibility for managing the LEP's Growth Deal Programme and, as opportunities arise, putting together bids for central Government funding for growth-related projects which contribute to the Strategic Economic Plan within the Greater Lincolnshire LEP area. To date Greater Lincolnshire LEP has been successful in securing £150 million of growth-related funding.
Funding has already been secured for Boston's Quadrant housing, commercial and football stadium development, which also introduces the first phase of the congestion-reducing Boston distributor road. The infrastructure works are currently receiving a £4.75 million growth deal allocation from the LEP and, in addition, the project has benefited from a £3.5m Invest and Grow Loan. A further allocation of £1 million is to be confirmed later this year as part of the wider Unlocking Rural Housing Programme.
The Boston tour took in the new Duckworth Jaguar Land Rover showroom, Boston Stump, the Guildhall and Fydell House - all of which impressed. Halina met with Cllr Rylott, Andrew Shaw, Head of Business at Duckworth Jaguar land Rover, Alison Fairman, chairman of Boston in Bloom and Boston Hanse Group (Boston has rejoined the Hanseatic League) and trustee and the chairman of the Fydell House Management Committee, Luke Skerritt, Boston Borough Council's principal museum, arts and heritage officer, and Phil Perry, the council's head of town centre, leisure events and culture.
Cllr Rylott said she was keen to share with Halina her thoughts on how Boston might look to invest in and support key locations in order to attract more visitors to the area.
Greater Lincolnshire LEP's priorities are to drive growth of the area's strongest sectors through targeted infrastructure investment, housing development, enabling skills provision or business support. The visitor economy is one of six priority sectors identified within Greater Lincolnshire's Strategic Economic Plan, and there is no question of the crucial role heritage, culture and creative industries play in support of this sector.
The LEP's new Visitor Economy Board met for the first time in May and has set itself initial objectives including maximising opportunities offered by Mayflower 400 - an ongoing global celebration leading up to 2020 and featuring Boston and its historic connection with the founding of the New World by the Pilgrim Fathers and the establishment of Boston, USA.
Following the meeting Ruth Carver LEP Director said: "The LEP aims to double the value of the visitor economy by 2020, hence more needs to be done to maximise the potential growth of what is one of our top three priority sectors."
New Visit Boston website
Boston Borough Council has launched a new website to help boost tourism in the area. www.visitbostonuk.com is now growing with information about the area's top visitor attractions, with helpful links to their own websites for accurate, up-to-the-minute details, so they are all just a click away.
It includes places to stay for those who want to enjoy a longer stay, a calendar of events and opportunity for anyone to submit details about their own event all for free.
Cllr Rylott said: "We have designed this website to be your website. We have spoken to many about how we can all better promote the area as a visitor destination, both to those closer to home and those elsewhere in the world. The hope is that all interested parties will add content and help build the website to become the one-stop shop for anyone interested in visiting Boston. We have designed it to be easy to use and easy to add to and want to see it develop rapidly with contributions from all who have an event planned, a visitor attraction or anything they think deserves publicity to promote the town and borough and attract visitors. The visitor economy is important for the area's prosperity and we believe there is scope to build it."