Tourism plays an important role in the economy of Bridlington and many small businesses rely on it to make a living, including the entrepreneurial owners who continue to employ staff to maintain the excellent tourism offer of the town.
A tour around different areas of Bridlington reveals the diverse range of attractions, such as Bondville Model Village, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Riding Leisure Bridlington, Bridlington Spa, with its mix of events and shows, Sewerby Hall and Gardens and of course our glorious expanse of open beaches.
On the back of attractions such as these, there are the accommodation offerings of local hotels and guest houses, the excellent food and drink provided by cafes, restaurants, pubs, ice cream parlours and fancy goods shops. All these businesses are part of the tourism economy and we are now seeing more and more cooperation between them to enhance the visitor experience, rather than seeing other businesses as competition.
Go into many cafes and pubs and invariably there will be a display box of leaflets for attractions, which the visitor can pick up, where previously these may have only been available via the tourist information centre.
RSPB Bempton has an entire wall in its centre designated as a ‘where to go next’ information point.
Maria Prchlik, RSPB marketing officer, told me: “We know our visitors stay locally, eat locally and explore locally once they leave us. We draw them in but it is important we share them out – we’re conscious we’re part of a local economy reliant on tourism to support it so it’s important we work together and help one another.”
In 2016, 100,000 people visited RSPB Bempton – an increase of 10% on the previous year. Bridlington’s Tourism Association reports a significant number of guest nights booked specifically to see the bird colonies, with Dutch visitors taking advantage of the location and ease of access.
The Yorkshire Belle runs special RSPB cruises so enthusiasts can get a different perspective of the cliffs.
The knock-on effect of events and shows at Bridlington Spa cannot be underestimated for local businesses.
Mick Waddington, of The Windsor Hotel, said: “Events such as the Scooter Weekend, The Northern Soul Weekend and The BDO Darts are vital for businesses such as mine and provide repeat bookings year-on-year.
“You take a look at cafes, pubs and restaurants during these weekends and see how busy they are. It is important for the local economy that events such as these continue and more events are attracted.”
Bondville Model Village, set in an idyllic location on the edge of Sewerby village, is seen as a hidden gem. The owners, Jan and Tim Whitehead, have restored the village and have based many of the models on actual buildings and businesses in the town.
Tim said: “Bondville Model Village compliments many of the attractions Bridlington has to offer. Visitors are able to experience the gardens, the harbour or listen to a band playing. It creates a unique and memorable experience.”
With all that Bridlington currently has to offer and the exciting developments which are taking place, many of the businesses that are reliant on tourism may now be looking forward to continued success.
Councillor Richard Burton, portfolio holder for leisure, tourism and culture at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “When you see the quality of Bridlington’s tourism offer, it is clear to see why the town was recently identified as one of the top 10 emerging UK destinations for holiday makers. There is so much to see and do. Bridlington really does have something for everyone.”