Bridlington’s geographical positioning is often seen as a limitation when encouraging businesses to locate to the area or for existing businesses to expand.
A metro area, such as Leeds, allows for a 360° catchment of surrounding the locations. Bridlington can only work to a 180° catchment, so businesses need to utilise the natural landscape to assist in the generation of business.
The ability to attract visitors through traditional seaside activities and attractions is well documented and has been used for many years.
In recent times, the establishment of special events has added to the offer and provided businesses with additional opportunities to develop and promote themselves.
Over the past few weeks, Bridlington has been fortunate enough to have witnessed a number of festivals, including the kite festival, the 1940s event in Bridlington’s Old Town, Race the Waves, a steampunk festival and the return of the popular seafood festival.
These events have significantly boosted visitor numbers to the town with the total number of attendees estimated at around 40,000 and will no doubt generate return visits to Bridlington for leisure.
The recent seafood festival was organised by the Holderness Coast Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG), which was established to develop fishing and associated businesses or community groups and encourage them to come forward with varying projects – funded by European Maritime and Fisheries Funding – to promote the seafood industry.
The festival attracted a variety of local businesses, including Arnolds Fishery, The Horse and Jockey, Toymaster, Naked Fish and Pot-a-Doodle-Do, as well as giving local attractions, such as RSPB Bempton and The Bridlington Cobble Society, a platform to attract people to their offerings.
The Bridlington Cobble festival will be held on Thursday, 27 and Friday, 28 June this year and will hopefully attract repeat visitors who learned of the event from the stall at the seafood festival.
Local performers, such as Coastal Voices and The Shamrock Experience, were given the showcase in the entertainment marquee which opened them up for potential future bookings.
Michelle Stoddard from Pot-a Doodle-Doo explained to me that the seafood festival had given them ‘the opportunity to be creative with over 500 children and their families’ and they ‘welcomed many regular Pot a Doodle Doo customers to their workshops, as well as many new faces who were keen to come and paint pottery in our studio’.
The key point from this is ‘new faces keen to come to the studio’ – an example of how business can be generated by presence at an event.
For some people it was the first opportunity to try something new, as James Goacher of Naked Fish explained: “We had people at our stall trying lobster for the first time and the majority said it wouldn’t be the last time. It was great to see people embracing the seafood culture.”
The promotion of the local seafood continued with Arnolds Oyster Bar who, over the weekend, sold over 100 lobsters and 200 dressed crabs. All of which were caught by the shellfish fleet in Bridlington.
Andrew Pinder said: “The locally caught crab and lobster was so popular we kept having to boil more to keep up with demand.
“It was encouraging to see so many people interested.”
Looking at the numbers attending the festivals and events, the ‘feel-good’ factor they generate and the variety of other attractions they find whilst attending it is easy to see why these festivals and events contribute to the local economy and help to prove Bridlington is ‘open for business’.