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Tourism partnership in Beccles aims to boost southern Broads

PUBLISHED: 09:40 10 July 2014

Canoeman Mark Wilkinson, right, with Shaun Crawley from the Lido celebrate their partnership

Canoeman Mark Wilkinson, right, with Shaun Crawley from the Lido celebrate their partnership

Archant

An expanding tourism business aims to boost the whole southern Broads economy through a new partnership venture.

The CanoeMan, the UK’s biggest provider of canoe hire and guided trails, has struck a deal with the Lido, in Puddingmoor, Beccles, to open its 10th centre on the Broads.

The collaboration will see staff at the Lido take charge of day-to-day hiring while the booking of canoe trails and holidays will be through the CanoeMan’s Norfolk Broads Tourist Information and Activity Centre at Wroxham.

As part of the initiative, the company will be offering canoe camping and bed-and-breakfast trails all the way down the River Waveney from Scole to Oulton Broad.

CanoeMan boss Mark Wilkinson, who launched the firm eight years ago and now employs 22 people in peak season, said: “The whole of our business has been based on building strong collaborations with local businesses, working together not only for mutual benefit but for the benefit of the area, providing local employment and promoting the Broads as a great place to stay and play.

“We have for many years generated lots of business for our partners in the northern Broads from guest houses and hotels to campsites, riverside pubs and restaurants and I would estimate our contribution to the local economy to be well in excess of £250,000 a year through direct and indirect spend.

“We now look forward to building further collaborations with businesses along the Waveney.”

The former regional pensions company manager said he had great respect for what the team at the Lido, led by Shaun Crawley, had done.

“The community business has made an amazing success of what had become a white elephant under the management of the council. For us to be able to offer the community a new facility from which there is a financial benefit for them is a win-win situation,” said Mr Wilkinson.

“Much discussion has been made about the need to promote the southern Broads and the Waveney Valley yet little has been done – this is our concrete contribution to that cause.

“The Waveney is an absolutely stunning river, with a wealth of wildlife and is just waiting to be explored and now we can help everybody access this.”

As the countdown continues to the close of nominations for the EDP/Visit Norfolk Tourism Awards on July 31, Mr Wilkinson said it was shaping up to be a “fantastic season with excellent bookings”.

“Until two years ago we were increasing our turnover 300 to 400pc year on year. After a temporary lull, we are certainly on an upward curve again,” he added.

He said canoeing had flourished even during the recession – “people saw it as a cheap pastime” – and it was becoming an increasingly important part of the Broads mix.

Mr Wilkinson said dates for the guided wildlife and canoe camping trails on the Waveney would be announced shortly.

Business success stories such as The CanoeMan are invited to nominate themselves for the EDP/Visit Norfolk Tourism Awards; the public can also nominate their own favourite tourism businesses/ operators for the 12 award categories. Simply visit http://norfolk.tourismawards.co.uk and make your nomination(s) online. The awards culminate in a black tie presentation dinner in November.

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