Broads to be re-branded
Stephen PullingerAn ambitious campaign to invigorate Broads tourism under the banner 'Britain's magical waterland' is to be unveiled today.The aim is to broaden perceptions of the Broads beyond their traditional boating image by highlighting other attractions like walking and birdwatching as well as the area's history and heritage.Stephen Pullinger
An ambitious campaign to invigorate Broads tourism under the banner 'Britain's magical waterland' is to be unveiled today.
The aim is to broaden perceptions of the Broads beyond their traditional boating image by highlighting other attractions like walking and birdwatching as well as the area's history and heritage.
It will also involve a pioneering "green boating" pilot scheme - and improve quality at Broads eateries.
The initiative by the Broads Tourism Forum (BTF) and Broads Authority follows a �20,000 EU-funded study into how to rebrand the Broads to build on its existing tourism economy estimated to be worth �414m in 2008.
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The strategy to safeguard the Broads' seven million annual visitors and 6,300 tourism jobs is being supported by a new website - www.enjoythebroads.com - which invites visitors to enjoy the Broads' wide range of attractions.
As well as traditional boating, the website highlights Broads heritage and other leisure activities such as fishing, birdwatching, cycling, walking and shopping in Norwich.
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Ian Russell, chairman of the BTF which represents Broads businesses, said: "We need to create a new awareness of the Broads, ensuring it is understood by all as a unique destination.
"It is vital we promote the Broads in a way that is consistent and contemporary and recognises the needs of tomorrow's visitors, playing to our strengths and working towards the recognition of the Broads as a destination for all seasons."
As part of the initiative, businesses are being given a 'toolkit' of marketing resources including logos, images and themed messages including a description of the Broads as "a magical place where land and water, people and nature meet".
Mr Russell, who has transformed his own business Wroxham Barns from a derelict farm 28 years ago to an attraction with 300,000 visitors annually, said the campaign's focus was on the Broads' unique qualities, its message that they could best be appreciated by boat.
He said: "The Broads offers a wide choice from canoes to the most superbly equipped motor cruisers in Europe."
The launch at the Forum in Norwich will also be told about a pilot scheme for the green grading of hire cruisers and day boats.
Mr Russell said: "This is cutting-edge stuff and we will be the first destination in Europe to try it."
Yards will be invited to offer a green choice, judged on such factors as a boat's type of engine and materials used to fit it out, the chemicals used to wash it and even advice offered to customers on environmentally friendly navigating.
"VisitEngland has found that, all things being equal, 60pc of customers will choose a green holiday," he said.
Another key part of the strategy will be the relaunch of the Broads Quality Charter, a grading system for eating establishments launched by the Broads Authority eight years ago and now taken up nationally and endorsed by VisitEngland.
Mr Russell said eateries signing up could be encouraged by the fact they would now feature on a national website as well as in the Broads Authority's Eating out in the Broads publication.
He said: "For their �105 fee they will also receive an unannounced visit by an inspector who will give them expert feedback after his meal."
The scheme had been refined so judging could more fairly reflect differences between restaurants, cafes and takeaways.
The campaign will also see Broads businesses being the first in the East of England to be offered
VisitEngland's new Welcome Host gold course to enhance customer service.
The course, which will include an emphasis on developing local knowledge to help visitors, will be delivered cost-effectively with the help of government funding.
Mr Russell said many Broads' businesses were already doing a brilliant job, citing Bewilderwood at Horning, Clippesby's camping site and The Waterside at Rollesby as good examples, but acknowledged there was work to do to reach a consistent quality across the Broads.
He described the strategy as "building on success, not praying for success" and added: "We really can deliver this if we all work together".