Plans to grow tourism to be considered by Cabinet

Plans to establish Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole as one of the best coastal places in the world to visit, work and invest in over the course of the next five years, will be considered at the next meeting of BCP Council’s Cabinet (8 March 2023).

The proposed Tourism Strategy is the first ‘whole place’ plan for our three towns and sets out plans for a new ‘geothermal spa’ as part of ambitions to develop the ‘identity of our region as a leading centre for wellbeing’.

The plans, if approved, set out how the council and its partners will grow our year-round visitor economy, international education offer and business tourism in a way that is beneficial to the local economy and community.

In the short term from 2023-2025, key goals in the proposed strategy focus on re-defining the role of the current Destination Management Board (DMB), which represents the interests of all businesses, groups and individuals that support the local tourism economy.

If approved, the strategy includes aims for the DMB to take on a more proactive delivery function, particularly around marketing and promoting our destination.

It also proposes ambitions to explore the development of a new film festival by 2024 and outlines plans to relax the tourism accommodation retention policy to allow a more ‘market led approach to accelerate redevelopment’.

In the medium term from 2024 to 2026, the strategy proposes investment in town centre regeneration sites supporting experiential tourism, such as Winter Gardens, Poole Quay, Boscombe district centre and Saxon Square in Christchurch.

In the long term from 2025 to 2027 and beyond, the strategy proposes investment in new and upgraded visitor attractions, including a major visual arts gallery at Poole’s former power station site and the regeneration of Bournemouth International Centre and Winter Gardens.

Councillor Beverley Dunlop, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Culture and Vibrant Places, said: “Tourism is a key sector for our region. Its success can be seen in the benefit it provides to residents: it generates over £1.3bn a year to our economy and supports thousands of jobs.

“Recognised as one of the premier coastal visitor destinations in the UK, local government has played a pivotal role in developing tourism.

“We are an aspiring council, supporting our visitor economy to grow and develop as a world class leisure destination; enabling the connection between visitor experience and resident well-being, that enriches the quality of life for our visitors and our communities.

“This first ‘whole place’ tourism strategy for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, which has been co-produced with the DMB, sets out key ambitions for the next five years.

“The Council will continue to be a partner by providing an enabling role in this shared vision for tourism as it takes on a new life through the DMB.”

Craig Mathie, chair of Bournemouth Christchurch and DMB, said: “We have an incredible destination with a thriving arts and festival scene, stunning hotels and restaurants, exciting attractions and beautiful scenery along our award-winning coastline. 

“Aligned to our unique proposition for international and domestic students, business events and conferences, our beautiful area has untold potential for visitors, residents and businesses alike. 

“The last few years have been challenging for the local tourism industry, but our strategy sets out a clear and compelling vision for our destination.

“I am confident it will boost our vital visitor economy and secure our place as one of the best coastal places in the world to live in and visit.”

The Tourism Strategy has been developed and is owned by DMB, with the Council playing an enabling role.

It includes plans to maintain and enhance investment in our world-class coastal assets and high-quality visitor services, of which the recent £20m Levelling Up fund investment in seafront infrastructure would be part of.

The plan proposes improvements to our cultural offer through festivals and activities as set out in the Cultural Strategy also being considered at Cabinet on 8 March.

It also proposes routes to improve sustainability, accessibility, transport and digital connectivity and productivity across our three towns.