Chief of Broads Tourism sets out group’s priorities after it sees membership jump from 50 to 75 in just months
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
After we revealed a drive to entice younger generations out onto the Broads, correspondent Lauren Cope talks to the body that, with its army of local businesses, will be putting much of the plan into practice.
This year has been something of a renaissance for Broads Tourism.
When chairman Greg Munford took over in May it was hailed as a new dawn for the group, which has one straightforward goal - entice people to the wetlands, and convert them into return visitors.
Since then, its membership of Broads businesses has soared from 50 - where it had hovered for years - up to 75, with hopes they'll pass 100 by Christmas.
Soon, work on major projects - including an up to scratch website, better social media channels and new destination magazine - will kick off as part of a Broads Authority tourism strategy in which the group was a key player.
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'The Broads is the jewel in the crown of Norfolk as far as we are concerned and our work is about making sure it is represented,' Mr Munford said.
'It's about bringing individual businesses together - we can create far more noise together than we can individually.'
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A focal point of the immediate work will be promoting the new Broads National Park branding - despite not legally being a national park, the Broads have been considered part of the family since the 1980s and has opted to brand the area as such.
Mr Munford said it would encourage all ages to explore the Broads, including a new wave of younger couples and families who are seen as a priority for the future.
'It's vital that we make sure we are speaking to every generation,' he said. 'The millennials have to be given the opportunity to get into the area and we have to make it more attractive for them to do so.
'That's where the website and the online presence becomes so important. Making sure we have those visitors for the future is absolutely key.'
Another well-documented campaign in the Broads tourism industry - and that around the country - is to strengthen the economy year round and lure visitors outside the core summer break.
Mr Munford, chief executive at Richardson's boating holidays, said: 'We need to remember that we can draw in people who want to visit for the day within an hour's drive time.
'The focus is always on enjoying the Broads 52 weeks of the year, but let's also make sure that initially we can expand the eight summer weeks into a longer period.
'September has actually become a very busy month from a boating perspective - the first two weeks in September are actually often busier than the first in July.
'It's about working with the visitor centres and visitor attractions - a joined up effort.'
As reported in yesterday's paper, the Broads Authority's Sustainable Tourism in the Broads report - which guides tourism in the area up to 2020 - found that while boating remains a Broads staple, other sectors are increasing alongside it.
Walking and cycling routes are in demand, while water activities are on the up - including canoeing and rowing, which rose by 60pc from 2010 to 2014.
Mr Mundford said: 'As a boating business we have tried to promote the whole area rather than just what we can offer. Someone who comes to hire a day boat or a canoe, or brings their bike for a cycling holiday is most likely going to come back. There is so much on offer and it's important that's brought together.
'Look at the Olympics - we had success in the sailing, the canoeing, the cycling. All these sports you can get started with at the Broads National Park.'
For more information on Broads Tourism, which has secured six new corporate sponsors, or if you are a business interested in signing up, visit www.enjoythebroads.com• Have you a got a Broads story? Email email@example.com