Dec 28 2010 By Liam Murphy
A MAJOR review of tourism is to be carried out in Wirral in a bid to boost visitor numbers and maximise the economic impact of borough’s attractions.
The aim is to build on the success of the 2010 Year of Food which saw thousands of visitors pour into the borough and millions of pounds in revenue to local businesses.
Now a year focusing on "coast and countryside" is being planned by the council as part of ambitious plans to develop the borough’s tourism economy and bring together local businesses to develop the area for longer stay visitors.
Cabinet member for culture and tourism, Cllr David Elderton, said the aim was to connect tourism with inward investment to the borough, showing off the area’s assets to potential investors.
The intention is that 2012 will be devoted to showcasing the peninsula’s more rural attractions as well as its beaches and coastal areas, ahead of a series of major golfing tournaments culminating in the return of the Open to Hoylake – and billions of television viewers – in 2014.
During 2011 the council will also be re-commissioning research first done ahead of the 2006 Open golf championship to find out what visitors think about the borough – or if they have even heard of it.
Council sources said the research four years ago described Wirral as a "day trip destination" but the increasing numbers of hotels being built and revamped – at New Brighton and Hoylake – suggested more people see the area as suitable for short breaks.
He said: "In 2006 40% of people surveyed didn’t have a clue even where Wirral was – and that was people in the North West. It was shocking, but also an opportunity because it also meant they did not have a bad impression."
Since then tourism has increased 30%, with a slight dip in 2009 after the boost provided by the 2008 Capital of Culture year in Liverpool.
The full calendar of events for the 2012 Year of Coast and Countryside is yet to be revealed, but one of the key developments is hoped to be a walking route around the entire border of the borough.