Price hike plan for Maritime Experience

VISITORS to a popular tourist attraction are set to be hit in the pocket if proposed price increases are rubber-stamped.

Civic chiefs are considering increasing admission fees to the Hartlepool Maritime Experience, off Marina Way.

Hartlepool residents receive a significant discount to the attraction, which is a reconstruction of an 18th century seaport and includes the floating warship HMS Trincomalee.

The Museum of Hartlepool is also on the site, but entry is free.

Proposals for the 2011-12 financial year would see admission prices for non-Hartlepool residents rise from 7.95 to 8.25 and the family ticket rise from 21 to 24.

The biggest rise for out-of-town visitors is the child, unwaged and student tickets which could rise from 4.95 to 6.25, a jump of 26 per cent.

Officers say that will bring it in line with the over 60's concession charge, which could rise from 5.95 to 6.25.

Town residents would see prices rise from 3.75 to 4 and from 3 to 3.50 for concessions.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson will discuss the proposals at a meeting of her culture, leisure and tourism portfolio next week.

In a report, John Mennear, the council's assistant director of community services, said: "The child, unwaged and student concession will all be brought into line with the over 60s concessions at a common price of 6.25.

"This concession discount is approximately 25 per cent of the full ticket price and more in line with tourist attraction rates elsewhere.

"It is important to stress that we are seeking to maximise the tourist visitor income by offering a competitive pricing structure which compares well across the North of England.

"Hartlepool Maritime Experience is a very good, high quality attraction with an average 'linger time' in excess of three hours, making this extremely good value for money.

"It is also important to stress that for regular bulk visitors we have a very significant range of pricing for the group travel trade, for school parties and of course for Hartlepool residents.

"The most beneficial way for any regular visitor to benefit is to take advantage of the range of Quay Cards which, although sold at a premium rate, then give unlimited access to the site for a whole year."

Coun Thompson will discuss the issue on Tuesday, January 18, at the Civic Centre, at 10am.