Now tourism tops agenda

PUBLISHED: 12:35 25 August 2006 | UPDATED: 22:07 28 May 2010

Councillors and visitors at the meeting in Whittlesey Town Hall

Councillors and visitors at the meeting in Whittlesey Town Hall

A SERIES of brainstorming sessions across Fenland has pushed tourism from near the bottom to the top of the district council s agenda. Prompted by the outcry which led to the freezing of plans to axe Wisbech Tourist Information Centre, the council hopes w

Arriving at the meeting are Ray Wicks and Penny Stocks, both of Wisbech and Cllr Robert Sears of Manea

A SERIES of brainstorming sessions across Fenland has pushed tourism from near the bottom to the top of the district council's agenda.

Prompted by the outcry which led to the freezing of plans to axe Wisbech Tourist Information Centre, the council hopes within a matter of weeks to have a new tourism strategy in place.

It will have emerged from a series of 11 meetings throughout the summer organised by the council's overview and scrutiny committee to pave the way for a new vision for tourism.

Councillor Robert Sears, of Manea, told a meeting in Whittlesey on Monday: "We have huge opportunities and I would like to think we are looking quite positive as to how we are going ahead with this."

The meeting at Whittlesey Town Hall was the seventh in the series to devise a new tourism strategy but there will be four more meetings before the committee's final report is delivered at the end of next month.

The review team is being chaired by Councillor Simon King, of Wisbech, who is also chairman of the council's overview and scrutiny committee. He said: "We are at the evidence stage, still asking the questions, but we have already covered a large area of ground."

Dozens of organisations with a stake in tourism have been invited to speak to the review team, including many businesses that will benefit from increased visitor numbers.

At Monday's meeting, for example, those invited included:

- Paula Syred, managing director of Fox Narrow Boats, March

- Teresa Squires, manager of the National Trust's Peckover House at Wisbech

- Adrian Scruby, countryside and archaeology adviser for Cambridgeshire County Council, responsible for Stonea Camp,

- Teresa Fowler, managing director of Common Right Barns, Wisbech St Mary

- Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill House Trust, Wisbech.

Greater use of one-stop shops to handle tourist inquiries, creating a new Fenland tourism website, and comparisons with neighbouring councils have all been part of the tourism debate.

Cllr King added: "We are all committed to improving the service, not degrading it, but obviously there are financial implications to work in.

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