The Committee received and considered the report from the Head of Marketing and Communications.
The Head of Marketing & Communications reported that this report sets out proposals to position the Borough as an all-year round destination for visitors in the 21st century reflecting on the changing pattern of how visitors access resort information over the last three years.
The Head of Marketing & Communications reported that the Council worked closely with the Town Centre Partnership (TCP) and Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area (GYTABIA) to promote and market the resorts in the Borough as part of an all-year-round place to visit as ‘destinations’ with their own unique identities under the new Visit Great Yarmouth brand.
The Head of Marketing & Communications reported that the landscape of tourist information was evolving, with digital trends emerging more heavily since the start of COVID-19. Closure of the Maritime House building and redeploying establishment costs would ensure Great Yarmouth’s digital presence was maximised. The current TIC offering came at a substantial cost to the Council, and a decrease in revenue had resulted in an increased deficit in recent years. Through working smarter and utilising a blend of staff resources, including COVID Marshals as Ambassadors, existing establishment costs could be redeployed to ensure digital presence was maximised, enabling existing marketing staff to concentrate on further commercial/revenue streams. There was a need to maintain a level of phone and email coverage, which could be managed through existing resources including weekend cover during the season.
The Head of Marketing & Communications reported that Maritime House offered the opportunity for a new revenue stream through being re-purposed for commercial use. The options set-out in this report provided a realistic proposition to develop the Council’s strategic support to the tourism sector and aligned with the operational delivery of tourism destination marketing undertaken by GYTABIA.
Councillor Wainwright commented that he was pleased to see that the Covid Marshalls were continuing to be utilised and, in his opinion, they would be required for the foreseeable future . Councillor Wainwright sought clarification as to whether the Tourist Information Centre would be re-located to the previous Greenwoods site which had now been acquired by the Council as part of the Town Deal. The Chief Executive Officer advised that it was hoped that the former Greenwoods site would become a Heritage Centre and provide a different offer to the Tourist Information Centre and work was progressing on this matter.
The Head of Communications and Marketing reported that a shared hub facility on Great Yarmouth seafront was being investigated with officers working with the CCG and Police on this matter. Councillor A Wright commented that he welcomed the proposed hub would could act as a call-in centre for tourists. The Chairman confirmed that he and the Chief Executive Officer have had discussions with the CCG and Police and that GYTABIA would be advised of the proposal.
Councillor Hammond asked whether it would be possible for signposts to be placed in the entrance gateways to the Borough which encompassed "Visit Great Yarmouth" with an email address, to advise visitors ideas of where to visit. The Chief Executive Officer reported that this matter would be looked into as it might only entail a QR code sited within the Council's car parks.
Councillor P Carpenter asked if the pop-up information points would be sited throughout the Borough including Gorleston, Hemsby & Scratby.
Councillor Plant asked if an App could be introduced which covered the whole of the Borough to show visitors what was on offer. The Head of Marketing and Communications advised that this matter was being looked into.
Councillor Flaxman-Taylor asked for clarification in regard to the ambassador roles being undertaken by the Covid Marshals and whether this would delay the roll out of the ambassador programme, if the Marshals were still dealing with Covid issues. The Head of Marketing and Communications advised that Marshals already undertook part of the planned ambassador role as part of their day-to-day work and conversations were taking place to discuss their capacity moving forward.
Councillor A Wright requested the inclusion of the shared information hub on Great Yarmouth seafront be included in the recommendations to ensure that visitors to the Borough continued to have a point of contact at Great Yarmouth Seafront.
That the Committee:-
a) Note the content of this report and the proposed new operating model for the provision of visitor/tourism information,
b) Support the principles contained in this report to move to online and telephony visitor
information services supplemented by COVID Marshals in the interim whilst in a pandemic, and longer term via a blend of seasonal ‘Hosts’, Heritage Guides and Street Wardens,
c) Confirm the continued closure of the Tourist Information Centre and request the Head
of Property Services brings forward an options appraisal to re-purpose the building in a
manner that will support the local leisure or hospitality sectors; and
d) Endorse that a shared information hub be provided at Great Yarmouth seafront.