MAYOR Stuart Drummond said Hartlepool shouldn’t let a lack of funding diminish its ambition when it comes to the multi-million pound visitor economy.
Hartlepool’s visitor economy, valued at an estimated £119m, supports 2,000 jobs and attracts three million visitors, according to the Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM).
But there have been significant changes to the region’s tourism structure in the past 12 months after the closure of Visit Tees Valley and the wind-up of One North East in March.
It has led local authorities in the Tees Valley to consider how to address promoting the North-East to industry and visitors.
Mayor Drummond said despite the strategic support no longer being there, the town should still be ambitious.
He said there was no reason why Hartlepool couldn’t host another Tall Ships Races event in future, after the success of the major maritime event in 2010.
Mayor Drummond said: “We can’t let a lack of funding diminish our ambition.
“Why can’t we host the Tall Ships Races again in five or six years time.
“That is the sort of thing that we should be aiming for.”
The visitor economy figures include tourists heading to Hartlepool Marina, Seaton Carew, the Headland and the Hartlepool Maritime Experience.
It also takes into account people coming to town for meetings, football matches at Hartlepool United and shoppers to Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
The ongoing work was discussed at a meeting of Mayor Drummond’s regeneration and neighbourhoods portfolio.
Mayor Drummond added: “What might be useful ahead of the budget work is to produce a wider piece of work highlighting how important tourism is to Hartlepool and what it brings to the local economy.
“A lot of investment at a strategic level has gone.
“We need to reconsider how important it is to our economy and it will help members when the budget comes round.
“It will also help shape our thinking of where we can fit in the north of the country.”W
Tourism chiefs said businesses should also use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to help sell themselves more.
Jo Cole, the council’s tourism officer, said: “The biggest challenge that we have is the location of Hartlepool.
“People do not travel through us to get to somewhere else, they have to have a reason to come here.
“We really need to let people know what is going on here.”
Both Visit Tees Valley and One North East supported the industry through big budgets, marketing and PR campaigns, but the onus is now on councils to support the visitor economy.
Officers said it is important for Hartlepool Borough Council to support the tourism economy through business support and marketing activities.
Work is well underway on developing a marketing plan to raise the town’s profile, develop and deliver bespoke tourism training courses and carry out joint marketing campaigns across the region.