Bournemouth, the UK’s leading seaside resort, is once again showing that destinations that continue to invest, even when there is a downturn in the national economy, can reap the benefits. Hot on the heels of the £50 million opening of the new Surf Reef facilities, even more tourism sector developments are underway for 2010 to help sharpen Bournemouth’s competitive edge and maintain its top position. Over £100 million is being invested in accommodation, transport, entertainment and restaurant improvements for 2010 to bring new tourism income and jobs.
With reports and research showing that again people will be holidaying in the UK this year, the developments are well-timed; VisitBritain forecasts a return to growth for British tourism in 2010, suggesting the tourism industry has reached a turning point and that it is an economic driver to lift Britain out of recession in 2010 and beyond.
The BDRC Holiday Survey found that domestic tourism is set for another strong year, making it one of the few industry sectors to benefit from the recession. 70% of people are likely to book a UK holiday in 2010 and the appeal of domestic holidays also appears to be strengthening with 31% feeling the UK is becoming more appealing as a destination, compared to 25% in 2009 and just 19% in the pre-economic downturn days of 2008.
A variety of Bournemouth accommodation providers continue to invest a total of £11.15 million in both improved and new premises:
A new £5.5 million “eco hotel” is in the pipeline this year, which will be Bournemouth’s first. The sustainable hotel on Grove Road will feature 32 rooms. Further details are kept under wraps and are yet to be announced by the developers, but the project is due to open later this year.
The Hermitage Hotel has bought the Punsion Memorial Church and surrounding buildings and has converted it into the Park Central Hotel, adjacent to the Heritage on Exeter Road. Having finished a £2 million conversion of the building (excluding the property purchase), the Hermitage has agreed a lease with an operator for the Park Central and is expected to open end Feb/ early March 2010. Meanwhile, the Hermitage Hotel is also undergoing a £2 million complete refurbishment including the renovation of 30 bedrooms, new lounge and restaurant, decoration and carpets. The side building will become the hotel restaurant, while the Hotel’s existing restaurant will host private functions and a new fully fitted corporate boardroom. All other works are expected to be completed later this year.
The Mayfair Hotel on Bath Road is undergoing a £500,000 rejuvenation. By the end of January the hotel will have a refurbished ballroom with a private bar overlooking the courtyard garden that is suitable for dancing groups, conferences, functions and weddings. The restaurant will host up to 90 diners. 40 bedrooms will have new en-suite bathrooms by May.
The Trouville Hotel on Priory Road is expanding by creating The Trouville Lodge, a new 19 bedroom hotel directly adjacent to the Hotel. The privately funded £1 million project will increase the total capacity to 94 bedrooms. The Lodge will offer free car parking to all its guests and complementary use of the Hotel’s leisure centre. Despite the fact the Lodge will not be opened until March 2010, many advance bookings have already been secured.
The Connaught Hotel on the West Cliff is undergoing a £150,000 investment which includes a new environmentally friendly garden replacing the old outdoor pool. The Hotel is continuing its refurbishment of the bedrooms and bathrooms, modernising its spa and leisure club and re-equipping the kitchen. Completion is due by the end of summer.
Edge Restaurant in Alum Chine is Bournemouth’s newest restaurant located in Alum Chine, offering dining with panoramic views. Following £500,000 investment, Edge, reachable by a glass lift, dominates the top two floors of the recently built Studland Dene development and hosts 100 covers and an outside terrace. The fourth floor offers modern European cuisine in a setting with bespoke furniture and exclusive fabrics. The fifth floor offers a private dining experience with 360º views.
Innovations in the transport sector improves access to, and in and around, the resort for both visitors and residents:
The £45 million redevelopment of Bournemouth Airport, funded by the airport’s owners, the Manchester Airports Group, will be completed late spring/early summer and includes a new departures terminal which will be twice the size of the old building and will triple the amount of retail/catering space. New lighting and navigation aids on the runway will allow aircraft to operate in adverse weather conditions, putting Bournemouth on par with other major UK airports and in a good position to attract more operators in the future. Larger apron space will accommodate up to 11 aircraft.
Once visitors arrive in Bournemouth, they can take advantage of Transdev Yellow Buses’ £3 million investment which includes additional 22 luxury single-deckers with leather seats, wood-effect floors and new fleet-wide ticket machines. The bus company, which in 2009 won ‘Shire Operator of the Year’ title at the UK Bus Awards, has also launched a new GLO smartcard for under 18s.
Boscombe Seafront and Town
Further external investment into the area has seen a £455,000 Sea Change culture-based capital investment by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). Dorset-based artist Andy Kirkby is creating an arts trail as part of the scheme. The final artworks will make an important contribution for residents and visitors to enjoy and will provide a positive sense of identity for the Sea Road area, which leads up from Boscombe Pier towards the town precinct.
Also part of the CABE Sea Change grant is the new innovative design beach huts specifically designed for disabled users. Following a highly successful competition attracting 173 original entries from all over the world, a winning design for four iconic “The Seagull and the Windbreak” new beach huts at Boscombe has been selected. Each hut will accommodate up to four wheelchair users and include high colour contrast surfaces, tactile floor surfaces to assist the visually impaired, adjustable height kitchen units with a gas stove and a communal outside area that incorporates a fresh water fountain and wash basin.
Boscombe Traders Association has received £10,000 from Bournemouth Borough Council’s Recession Fund to support traders and promote the area as a destination to live, work and visit. The Council’s Economic Regeneration Unit is working with the Arts and Development Team, local businesses and artists to develop a sustainable scheme for putting ‘Art into Empty Spaces.’
Entertainment & Arts
Organisers are in the planning stages for the third More Bus Bournemouth Air Festival, taking place this summer 19th – 22nd August. Last year’s event attracted an estimated audience of more than 1.3 million people during both day and night over the four days, 50% more than 2008 and a new visitor record for Bournemouth. The economic contribution from the Bournemouth Air Festival is estimated at £30 million. The 2009 Air Festival hosted Royal Naval assets, a superb RAF line-up including the Red Arrows and Eurofighter Typhoon, as well as The Wingwalkers, The Blades and Red Bull Matadors. 2010 aircraft line-up will be announced at the end of March. For information and news updates please visit bournemouthair.co.uk
The creation of a new dance centre means the Bournemouth Pavilion will host a world-class dance centre. The £3.29 million Pavilion Dance scheme, partially funded by a grant from the South West RDA will be operated by Dance South West in conjunction with Bournemouth Borough Council. It will be a venue for everyone, whatever age, ability or preferred style of dance. The best regional, national and international dance companies will also perform there.
The first major project within the Town Centre Vision will mean the 1,249 square metre dance centre will occupy the currently vacant Ocean Room and former Viking Bar at the seaside end of the Pavilion. The building will feature a large entrance foyer, community and professional dance studios, changing rooms, and a studio theatre with retractable seating for up to 200. Other design features include backstage facilities, first class lighting and audio visual equipment including cinema projection. Outside, landscaped terraces will provide attractive performance spaces. The grand opening is scheduled for Autumn 2010.
Imax (Waterfront Building)
Recent news that the unpopular Imax building, considered by the vast majority of Bournemouth inhabitants and the trade as a blight on Bournemouth’s seafront, was bought by the council received a positive response in January 2010. The £7.5 million cost, mostly funded from the sale of a public car park, will enable the Council to work with a private partner who will develop the site into a new attraction.