December 10 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 30, 2013
A bold move to bring more familes on to the Broads and reinvigorate holiday boating has won plaudits throughout the tourism industry.
The Broads’ biggest hire boat firm, Richardson’s, has unveiled a new pirate-themed cruiser - the Jolly Richie - which it hopes will develop the market for families with young children.
If bookings go well, the Stalham firm is planning to customise other boats in its 315-strong fleet and develop new themes to appeal to youngsters.
The move has come in the wake of a survey by Hoseasons earlier this year which shockingly revealed that the appeal of Broads holidays appeared to have skipped the last two generations.
It found that younger people often viewed a Broads holiday as boring and recommended a new emphasis on family fun.
The 35ft Jolly Richie, wrapped in bright vinyl and sporting pirate accessories from cushions to bedding, won immediate praise from holidaymakers returning to Stalham Staithe on Saturday.
And Simon Altham, managing director of Hoseasons, said: “This is a fantastic new initiative from Richardson’s. All of the boatyards are working towards opening the Broads up to new audiences, especially young families, and this is a brilliant way of showing people what a fun time they can have holidaying on the water.”
Chairman of Broads Tourism Barbara Greasley said she had been “very interested” to hear about Richardson’s pirate themed cruiser.
Mrs Greasley, a director of Wroxham hire boat firm Norfolk Broads Direct, said: “I firmly believe that all of us in the Broads tourism sector need to think of imaginative ways to appeal to the family market and this is certainly a good example of that.
“I am delighted that so many businesses are now using the Broads’ Britain’s Magical Waterland branding and we are planning to develop the brand further to ensure that it represents family fun and fun activities as well as just the beautiful and serene Broadland landscape.”
Richardson’s chief executive Greg Munford said: “The Broads has lots of fabulous family attractions from Bewilderwood and Pettitts animal adventure park to everything Yarmouth has to offer - now we are making the journey a big part of the adventure.
“Possibly over time we had taken the fun out of boating, focusing on the boat and not the journey.”
Alongside the Jolly Richie, which is being advertised for hire in the 2014 brochure, Richardson’s has developed A Kid’s Guide to Broads Boating Adventures which will soon be available to download from its website.
Mr Munford said he had approached Stef Hume, of FSG Signs in Norwich, and asked him: “You have done vans and buses, have you ever wrapped a boat in vinyl?”
The cruiser had been lifted from the water for the work to be done.
He said the initiative was about creating the right image and tone to appeal to the family market.
They had already identified a further three boats for a makeover and were exploring other themes, possibly ones that would appeal more to girls.
He said: “This has come out of listening to our customers through social media and we will be asking our customers what other themes they would like.”
Mr Munford said it was a recognition that hire boat firms had to evolve in the way holiday parks were doing.
“More and more is going into holiday parks, for example they are investing in splash zones rather than just swimming pools. It is the business about creating fantastic memories,” he said.
He said he hoped themed boats would turn into something “quite big” and reinvigorate an industry that had seen the number of hire craft fall from more than 2000 to fewer than 900 over the past two decades.
The cold spring this year has left hire boat firms playing catch-up and most expect this season’s figures to finish significantly down on last summer.
Short-breaks on the Jolly Richie in 2014 range from £329 to £768. Week-long holidays range from £470 to £1098.
The Jolly Richie will also be made available free by Richardson’s to a number of charities for seriously-ill children next year, including Ray of Sunshine, Starlight and Dreams Come True.