First sign for the Broads National Park is installed in Beccles

Members of Broads Tourism, the Broads Authority and Waveney District Council with LDefra minister Lo

Members of Broads Tourism, the Broads Authority and Waveney District Council with LDefra minister Lord Gardiner at the unveiling of the first Broads National Park sign at Beccles Railway Station. Picture: Bethany Whymark - Credit: Archant

A new chapter in the history of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads has begun with a tourism campaign celebrating its international significance.

The first sign welcoming tourists to the Broads National Park was installed in Beccles by the Broads Authority on Friday, the first of an extensive network planned by the organisation.

It comes a year after the authority won a High Court battle to continue using the Broads National Park branding – which interested parties believe will be a huge boon for the local tourism industry.

The first sign at Beccles Railway Station marking the 'Gateway to the Broads National Park' – facilitated by Greater Anglia and the Community Railway Partnership – was installed by Broads Authority apprentices with an audience including Defra minister Lord Gardiner.

Greg Munford, Broads Tourism chairman, said members of the tourism partnership has seen an increase in their forward bookings since the rebranding initiative was launched last May.

Chief executive of Richardsons Leisure Ltd Mr Munford said: 'We have always been able to market the Broads as part of the National Parks family but that is quite woolly. Now we are branded as the Broads National Park it has enables tourism businesses to get behind one brand that is internationally recognised.

'At present we are on a brand awareness campaign which will drive up visitor numbers. At the moment there are around 7m visitors to the Broads annually – 6m day visitors and 1m stay visitors.'

Chief executive of the Broads Authority John Packman said: 'Tourism has had a couple of good years and the bookings for 2017 and 2018 are looking good.

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'I am hopeful that the combined efforts of the industry and this campaign will be beneficial for us.'

He added: 'We think the campaign will raise people's awareness of how important the Broads are, and encourage people to visit.'

Lord Gardiner said: 'This scheme shows the potential of this extraordinarily beautiful part of our country. The brand itself has a provenance of high standards.

'I think there is opportunity not only locally but within the UK and for people coming from abroad.'

The Broads Authority is working with Greater Anglia and other partners to install up to 20 signs at railways stations and on by-roads across the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads over the next few years.

In total the authority has allocated £5,000 from its National Parks grant to facilitate the area's rebranding, including the signs' installation.

The Broads had been part of the National Park family for 27 years before the High Court allowed it to use the branding.

While areas with legal national parks status only have two statutory purposes – to conserve the area and promote use – the Broads are dealt with under separate legislation which means they must balance these priorities with navigation.

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