Southwold proposes new ‘tourist trail’ to attract visitors
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
A tourist trail is set to be built throughout Southwold as part of plans to boost the seaside town’s economy after it was severely impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown.
Southwold Town Council has submitted proposals to East Suffolk Council to construct a series of informative signs and historic sculptures to encourage visitors to the resort.
In the application, the town council said the scheme would “result in a year-round attraction” and bring “increased economic benefit” to Southwold.
James Mellish, specialist consultant to the council’s project, said the scheme would help link together Southwold’s town centre, pier and harbour.
He said: “Connecting these three areas will bring economic benefits to local business and the rest of the town. We’re trying to bring the whole of the town together.
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“Even on a cold winter’s day, people will still have a reason to visit Southwold.
“This will be one of many projects going on in the town over the next few years.”
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Tourism is worth an estimated £71million to Southwold’s economy and nearly 80% of the jobs in the town are related to the industry, a 2015 study revealed.
However, the seasonality of the industry has left many businesses reliant on the peak summer months, and many firms face difficulties in maintaining an income throughout the year.
According to research by Visit East of England, half of the accommodation businesses on the coast reported losses of up to 80% as a result of the coronavirus lockdown - a figure estimated to be between £10,000 to £50,000.
The tourist trail proposed by the town council would contain information on Southwold’s past, as well as a series of hand-carved sculptures and seating areas.
Town mayor Ian Bradbury said: “Southwold is very much a town with a huge history. “We hope this will bring people to the town and give people something else to do, other than just visiting the beach.
“Tourism is the life and blood of Southwold. If we didn’t have tourists visiting, we would not have a town.
“We are trying to restore some sense of normality now lockdown has eased. We are open for business.
“But we still want to be responsible because of the virus.”