Tourism has been important to Alnwick for a very long time. Alnwick Castle has been a high profile visitor attraction, and in recent years has expanded its opening hours, activities and visitor facilities. The success of The Alnwick Garden has increased the visitor numbers to Alnwick, putting the town on the map nationally as a tourism destination and stimulating the local economy.
The growth of tourism in and around Alnwick reflects demand from holidaymakers, packaged travel provided by coach and tour operators, business travel and visiting friends and relatives.
Tourism marketing bodies plan promotions in terms of target market segments and the main targets identified appear to require an emphasis on quality of product and service, environment and access to heritage and countryside.
Alnwick appears to have many of the relevant attractions, amenities and visitor-related services needed to function as an attractive and sustainable visitor destination, but has under-utilised off-peak capacity, and needs to address quality and accessibility if it is to realise its full potential.
Proposed tourism objectives:
- To establish Alnwick as a high quality and accessible year-round tourism destination
- To improve the range and quality of accommodation and other visitor-related services
- To encourage investment that will enhance the appeal of visitor attractions and activities
- To encourage visitors to spend more time in Alnwick Town Centre
- To encourage more visitors to walk, cycle and use public transport
Tourism in the economy
The thrust of national and county policy is to encourage tourism. The issue is particularly relevant for Alnwick as a key tourist destination in North Northumberland and it is likely that demands for tourism will continue to grow within the town.
However, it is equally important that tourism is not promoted to an extent that has negative effects due to over-reliance on one sector for economic growth, or that it drives out other sectors which contribute to the vitality of Alnwick as a market town and service sector.
The economic impact of tourism applies not only to businesses directly serving visitors, but also to the local supply chain and secondary economic impacts for example helping to support a wider range of shops, cafes, theatre, social facilities and services than might otherwise be sustainable for a town of this size.
The plan should support Alnwick’s role as a viable and competitive tourism destination.
Expanding capacity without addressing the seasonality issue will not help overall sustainability of the tourism sector: put simply, the short season makes it harder to achieve break-even and the generation of sufficient revenue to re-invest in improvements to facilities, quality of service etc.
Initiatives to extend the length of the tourism season should be promoted in the plan where it can be achieved with no environmental or land use impact upon the town.
Locations for tourism development
Tourism development, both attractions and accommodation, should be encouraged to be located within or adjacent to Alnwick, as one of the county’s recognised service centres, where it can complement other tourist businesses and services and enhance Alnwick’s overall visitor appeal.
Future tourism developments should be assessed in terms of:
- Quality of design and fitness for purpose
- Contribution to the overall attractiveness of Alnwick as a tourism destination
- Ease of access to other visitor facilities and services in the town
- Contribution to extending the season
- Protecting the town’s most sensitive environments
Access for all
Catering for the needs of visitors with mobility restrictions applies to a wide cross-section of society.
Addressing accessibility will shape Alnwick’s long-term reputation and economic benefits derived from tourism. It will also play a big part in making the town more attractive to live and work in.
The plan should promote access improvements in order to be a welcoming and delightful place for all, including visitors with restricted mobility.
Signposting and interpretation
Visitors and local people need to be able to navigate their way around the town, find places of interest, car parks and other facilities. Linked to this is a desire to strengthen local links between retail and leisure facilities and to ensure that the Castle/Gardens connects strongly with the core of the town.
Interpretation of the historical and architectural features of the town is also desirable in helping to orientate visitors and enhance their enjoyment. Achieving this would also benefit local people and make moving around the town a more pleasurable experience.
At present Alnwick does not appear to be making the most of opportunities presented by the coach tour market mainly because of the poor coach parking facilities within the town centre.
Coach parking, drop-off and pick-up provision should be improved to ensure that Alnwick is made attractive for short stay town centre related coach operators and their passengers.
Community evidence base
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