Tech-savvy approach will bolster drive to draw younger generations out onto the Broads

A busy weekend at Ranworth staithe on the Norfolk Broads.

A busy weekend at Ranworth staithe on the Norfolk Broads. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

A masterplan shaping tourism across the Broads will focus on unlocking the wetlands for younger generations and bringing the area into the digital age.

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Spectacular views, idyllic breaks afloat, rare wildlife and rural towns have made the waterways a fertile ground for tourism, with an industry worth £584m last year alone.

And while the traditional Broads boating holiday continues to thrive - 7.4m people explored the area in 2015 - with the majority of visitors aged 45 and above, a new strategy has listed a tech-savvy approach as key to enticing a younger demographic.

The Sustainable Tourism in the Broads report - which was adopted by the Broads Authority and Broads Tourism earlier this year - shapes how tourism develops up to 2020 and reflects on trends over the last few years.

Among its six key focuses for 2016 - which include promoting so-called 'wildlife experiences' - are an up to date website and strong social media platforms.

People on boats enjoying the sunshine on the River Wensum in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

People on boats enjoying the sunshine on the River Wensum in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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Bruce Hanson, tourism officer at the Broads Authority, said an online presence would bolster a growing number of tourists in their 20s and 30s.

He said: 'Since we started using the Broads National Park branding, I have seen more and more 20 and 30-somethings come up and ask what they can do when they go to the Broads.

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'The younger people who have visited seem to be surprised at what they find and to have the feedback and comments we've had over the last year or so has been positive. It's definitely a priority.'

He said updating the website, www.enjoythebroads.com, was 'critical' to promoting the Broads to the internet generation, and said that it was likely to have undergone a revamp by the end of the year.

It is hoped that expanding walking and cycling routes - along with a rise in water activities including canoeing and paddle-boarding - will cater to a market keen on getting out and about.

'A lot of those I have spoken to seem to be more interested in the land-based offer, so I hope we can entice them in with that and let them discover the boating and water activities as well,' Mr Hanson added.

A survey of Broads businesses used for the five-year plan revealed the 'need to expand the market base for the future' was considered a challenge.

Firms hope attracting young couples and families will encourage repeat business, though many said issues including poor broadband and mobile phone signal needed to be overcome.

The report, which can be found on the Broads Authority's website, was put together by the body and Broads Tourism, which, made up of about 75 local businesses, will be the vehicle by which much of the strategy will be delivered.

• How do you think Broads tourism should be shaped over the coming years? Email Broads correspondent Lauren Cope at lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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