Aiming to attract more tourists by improving and developing the town’s water front, project partner, Stockvale Group, is also contributing a further £100,000 as match funding.
In a recent business survey, 28 percent of businesses in Southend said tourism was important to their business survival. Offering a more diverse range of activities, the investment will be used to strengthen and improve its destination infrastructure in the local area. During the summer months the town sees a booming rise in visitors, however the funding help will extend and enhance Southend’s visitor offer to attract people all year round.
The Southend Economic Development and Tourism strategy identifies attracting more overnight visitors to boost the local economy, as a key objective. Establishing more permanent job opportunities, the grant is anticipated to create eight jobs initially, with a further 126 indirectly, whilst employing four new tourism and events apprentices will help locals gain experience in coastal related activities and management.
The grant will be used to support numerous projects, including building a lagoon which will provide a year-round body of water, regardless of the tide, for water-based sport and leisure activities as well as improving facilities at Bell Wharf in Old Leigh – growing the number of boating visits to this historic fishing village. Developing the Southend Marine Activities Centre by investing in new equipment, these funds will also add to the number of Safe Zone Buoys off the east coast so kitesurfing, jet skiing and other popular sports can be encouraged in a safer environment. It will also deliver a maritime festival celebrating Southend’s heritage, location, industries and spirit.
Councillor John Lamb, Deputy Leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council says: “It’s imperative the number of visitors out of peak season is increased. This is something we’ve been working towards over recent years through the events calendar, whilst investing in infrastructure such as Prittlewell Priory and Garon Park Swimming and Diving Centre. The private sector has mirrored this with investment resulting in two 4* hotels in the town. This is an opportunity for Southend to attract more staying visitors, especially out of season. It is a great achievement and we look forward to seeing increased visitor numbers in the coming year.”