New Broads Tourism chairman unveils exciting plans

Building up the Broads Outdoors Festival into an important shoulder season tourism event will be a key aim of Katie Lawrence after taking over as chairman of Broads Tourism.

Mrs Lawrence, 32, said the festival, in May, offers a 'great opportunity to shout out about the area' and she sees vast potential in building on the success of its launch event, the Horning Boat Show, by infusing more energy and adding even more activities and entertainment, including live music.

She said she would be encouraging people to 'think outside the box' and cited the success of the charity canoe marathon she organised during this year's festival.

'The number of people who turned up to support the event at the end, at Hotel Wroxham, was amazing. There was music, activity and a real buzz,' she said.

Mrs Lawrence is the brand manager for boating at Hoseasons and is being supported by her employers in taking over Broads Tourism's key role from Barbara Greasley, director of hire boat firm Norfolk Broads Direct.

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Living close to the river at Horstead, and with a self-confessed 'passion for the region', Mrs Lawrence previously ran a top-end charter business, Lola Charters, on the Broads.

She said: 'I sat on the executive committee of Broads Tourism then and I can see the value of Broads Tourism from small start-ups, such as Lola Charters, to a big business like Hoseasons.'

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She said a lot of amazing work had been done in the 10 years of Broads Tourism and her aim would be to build on that.

A starting point would be her aim to recruit a lot more businesses to the 50-strong membership to 'make a voice as loud as possible'.

'We want to broaden the membership to include everyone from taxi firms to craft businesses who in the past may not have felt it was relevant,' she said.

Mrs Lawrence is also aiming to open up 'the relatively untapped opportunities' of Norwich and Great Yarmouth to Broads visitors.

She said: 'Some people still need to be spoonfed about what there is to do on the Norfolk Broads.'

One of her aims therefore was to expand content on the website to include a dedicated experiences page, highlighting what was on offer to everyone from foodies to culture vultures.

Mrs Lawrence is positive about the future for Broads hire boating, predicting an increase in the number of craft, but stressed the importance of other activities in the tourism mix.

'Stand-up paddle boards are my number one hobby at the moment. These are some of the new things we need to shout a lot more about,' she said.

She is being supported by Tony Urwin, boss of Bank Boats at Wayford Bridge, who has become vice-chairman.

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