26 July 2019

Lincolnshire tourism expert supports bid for new ‘Zone’ status.

Lincolnshire will be given a major boost if the county is chosen as one of five new UK Tourism Zones, which are part of the recently announced national Tourism Sector Deal.

That is the view of East Lindsey-based Flora Bennett, a legal authority within the tourism, rural and agricultural sector. A partner at the Louth office of Wilkin Chapman Solicitors, Flora is also a member of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP’s Visitor Economy Board and has an extensive knowledge of the area from both a legal and personal perspective.

Supporting the LEP’s efforts to see Lincolnshire included as one of the five new zones, Flora believes this is an opportunity that must be grasped by both hands.

“Lincolnshire sits on the cusp of a fabulous opportunity. Previously seen as ‘hidden gems’ the Lincolnshire Wolds and its miles of coast are emerging as real jewels in the county’s crown. Their future depends on businesses having the resources to grow whilst retaining the natural beauty and charm of the area,” said Flora.

The Government recently announced the setting up of the five zones, which will form part of an overarching Tourism Sector Deal to boost the UK’s visitor economy.

The selected areas will show a collaboration between public bodies, local organisations and businesses to establish strategies for growth and to increase off-season visits. Funding will be available to increase the number of places to stay and improve accessibility of facilities. There will also be increased opportunities for training with apprenticeships and two new T-level qualifications in Catering, and Cultural and Heritage Visitor Attractions – both which will be of interest here. Smaller businesses will receive digital, management and leadership training.

Greater Lincolnshire LEP has already stated its intention to actively push the county to the fore as the Government considers zone areas and has met with Stephen Darke, Head of Tourism at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

While obviously benefitting the city of Lincoln, Flora sees it as an opportunity to develop countryside projects and improve the coastal and Wolds pathways. It could also see the creation of more attractions, conference facilities and hotels.

In recent years Flora and the team at Wilkin Chapman have advised on diversification projects, including the conversion of farm buildings and farm land into various types of holiday accommodation across the Wolds and the development and purchases of holiday parks. Such work has involved property transfers, leases and licences as well as re-financing and planning – and it may well be that becoming a ‘Zone’ will provide the funding and training to assist businesses with these processes, explained Flora.

Citing the success of May’s Lincoln Grand Prix, which featured a route through the Wolds, Flora added: “There is plenty of room for growth in tourism which will help the local economy and benefit those who live here. More training opportunities, improved roads and 100 per cent broadband availability would be good news for us all. I would also be pleased to see more working together, the development of projects to extend the season and the launch of new digital projects.

“With the Lincolnshire coast being one of the most popular seaside destinations there could be welcome opportunities for holiday parks to tap into funding to help with staff training and recruitment and in setting up new attractions. Perhaps the bottlenecks on the A158 and A52 might get sorted too!” she said.

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