AN ambitious plan to make Hartlepool’s iconic tourist attraction HMS Trincomalee an even bigger draw has been revealed.
Ship’s officials have decided to “broaden their reach” in 2015 and add to the 45,000 people who visit each year at the moment.
HMS Trincomalee Trust general manager David McKnight said: “Historical visitor numbers have held up well. They are not tailing off.
“But we want to become better, further afield.”
It means that, instead of appealing to an area of people within an hour’s drive time of Hartlepool, that could be extended to anything up to two-and-a-half hours.
The current push concentrates as far as the Tyne Valley, York and the North-East part of Leeds.
The Hartlepool Mail revealed in June how Trincomalee had become a full subsidiary of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), giving her the same national standing as HMS Victory.
That has added to its appeal and Mr McKnight is confident that a wider push for daytime trade will also help.
“In the last 18 months, we have started to push to an hour’s drive time from here and we need to continue what we are doing. We are ready to move that forward, to encourage people to come and spend more money in the town.
“It is all about the economy in Hartlepool.”
Research has also shown that Trincomalee is being well displayed at other tourist attractions. Mr McKnight added: “We did some leaflet distributing at sites including HMS Unicorn and Discovery, and we have had some people come to us and said they find the Trincomalee leaflet. They were impressed with us.”
Studies show the take-up of leaflets for Trincomalee was strongest in Scotland where it enjoyed a 28 per cent success rate. The same leaflet pick-up rate, for people interested in finding out more about Trincomalee, was recorded in Yorkshire.
Ship’s bosses are also planning to keep up and increase the Trincomalee’s varied programme of entertainment.
In 2014, that included a Steampunk festival, a belly dance convivial and live music nights. It also included an exhibition of seaglass.
Mr McKnight said: “We want to attract new audiences. For example, when we had the belly dance festival this year, we had people from all over the region and not just Hartlepool. They went away as ambassadors for the ship and the town.
“That is why we do what we do.”