Events ‘are key to Lancashire tourism boost’

ECONOMY: Ruth Connor
ECONOMY: Ruth Connor
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Attracting more high profile festivals and events to Lancashire could be the answer to boosting the county’s visitor economy, according to a meeting of tourism bosses.

The summit of hoteliers, industry leaders and professional advisers heard how attracting more events would encourage visitors to stay in the county for longer and increase tourism spend.

Attendees at the Lancashire Tourism Round Table, hosted by accountancy and business advisory firm Moore and Smalley, discussed a range of opportunities and challenges to the region’s leisure and tourism sector.

Ruth Connor, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: “A greater focus on events and festivals has led to a four per cent increase in visitors in recent years. Visitors are always looking at what’s on and things to do and in the longer term we need to identify further opportunities to attract visitors to the county. We have lots of strengths and assets in Lancashire and we are working on pulling this together into a cohesive tourism story to promote on a national and international stage.”

Businesses present reported a mixed year in 2013, with many seeing visitor numbers up but overall spend down.

Most are confident of a good year in 2014, but believe rising costs, such as the introduction of auto enrolment pensions rules could impact on finances.

Andy Townsend, chief executive officer of Legacy Hotels & Resorts, which operates the Legacy Preston International Hotel, said: “We’re expecting a similar turnover in 2014 but managing the cost base will be a challenge.

“For example, we expect auto enrolment will cost a significant sum in terms of implementation and administration, while energy costs continue to rise.”