New calls for a Wells business forum to support the town’s tourism industry
06:30 08 January 2014
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Fresh calls have been made for a business forum to be established in Wells to help promote the town’s multi-million pound tourism industry.
Councillors and tourism officials have called on Wells businesses to work together as Wells Town Council looks to have more input over the way the town is promoted as a tourist destination.
Councillor Russell Wright, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) cabinet member for customer services and economic development, and David Thompson, head of VNN, attended Wells Town Council’s meeting on Monday night.
They discussed town councillor Roger Arguile’s concerns about the way the Wells’s tourism industry is being managed and promoted.
Mr Arguile has been critical of NNDC and VNN.
He believes Wells is not properly represented on the VNN website and feels there should be more focus on promoting Wells as a whole rather than the individual businesses which pay to be VNN members.
He said: “This approach does not solve our problem.
“If you go to the VNN website and you lived in Coventry or wherever you would think Wells has no good restaurants, no coffee shops, no water borne activities because it is just promoting the businesses that feel it is worth paying to be represented.”
He added: “I am also concerned about the management of tourism as there are certain issues, whether it be parking or whatever, which can’t be addressed by me or by VNN.”
Mr Thompson explained how VNN, a not-for-profit company, was established following cuts in local authority funding for tourism.
He said its on-line marketing strategy had secured wider, more efficient and cost effective coverage for the district than there had been in the past.
Mr Thompson, Mr Wright, county councillor Dr Marie Strong and Mr Arguile stressed the need for Wells tourism businesses to form a local partnership.
Mr Thompson explained how local groups had worked successfully with VNN and cited how this had been done in Burnham Deepdale.
The meeting heard how previous efforts to establish a business forum in Wells had failed through lack of interest but Mr Arguile said: “Perhaps the town council should try to push water up the hill and get businesses to work together for the good of the town.”
Wells Town Council is to consider becoming a VNN member.
Mr Wright suggested that businesses in Wells should consider working with the North Norfolk Business Forum, which works in partnership with NNDC.
He also vowed to look closely at Mr Arguile’s concerns.