Friendly faces all aboard to greet visitors

A band of volunteers will give a warm welcome to visitors arriving in Great Yarmouth by train this summer - and their smiling faces are hoped to boost the seaside resort's tourism trade.

The group of 'welcome hosts' have taken up residency at the station and will be offering directions, advice and information to passengers as they arrive in the town.

They will also be on hand to help visitors with luggage, will recommend activities and events tourists can get involved with during their stay and hand out details of offers at restaurants and attractions passengers can take advantage of with their rail tickets.

It is hoped their friendly service will in turn encourage tourists to make return visits and provide a brighter welcome for those arriving by train - an asset which is said to be missing from the station.

The hosts have been recruited from the Great Yarmouth Community Trust, which has worked with Greater Anglia to set up the welcoming scheme.

Andrew Forest, chief executive of the trust, said one of the catalysts for the project had come from businesses' concerns about the station.

He added: 'When people were arriving at the station it lacked something that really promoted the town and made people feel welcome and show this is a great place to come and visit.

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'We looked at that because part of our role is very much the social and economic regeneration of Yarmouth. Anything we can do that would encourage more visitors and make them become repeat customers would be good.'

The volunteers all have good knowledge of Yarmouth and a 'passion' for the attractions it offers and have studied for World Host qualifications at Great Yarmouth College - the same training that people working at the London 2012 Olympics have received.

Leading the welcoming team is volunteer Brian Jewell.

He said: 'We want to be able to help people so when they get to their final destination they're completely relaxed and remember the fantastic time they're going to have.

'We'll also be here to see them off and then we can start getting ideas from what their experiences were so we can enhance what we're doing.'

Greeters will take up their platform posts on the station's busiest days from now until September.

The scheme is being piloted in Yarmouth and if a success it is hoped it will be rolled out to other areas of the network. But this is the not the only project in the pipeline to improve the station as Greater Anglia and the trust are planning more partnership work to boost its appearance and facilities.

? More volunteer greeters are needed. Anyone interested in joining the scheme should have a knowledge of Yarmouth and an interest in its attractions. Contact Tony Rozier on 01493 743000 or email tony-rozier@gyctrust.co,.uk for more information.

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