New attractions to boost spending

NEW tourist attractions on Felixstowe's south seafront could bring another 50,000 visitors a year to the resort – and create a £1 million spending bonanza.

NEW tourist attractions on Felixstowe's south seafront could bring another 50,000 visitors a year to the resort – and create a £1 million spending bonanza.

That's the sort of figure tourism chiefs believe the scheme planned for the 17-acre site could generate for businesses in the resort.

But sceptics are far from convinced and believe the project – which will include more gardens, children's play areas, public art and an ampitheatre – will offer little to visitors and not provide the big attraction the town needs.

Assistant director of planning and leisure at Suffolk Coastal, Tony Osmanski said it was difficult to quantify the effect the multi-million pound project would have on the regeneration of the resort because it would be free entry.

However, research had shown it could be used by an average of 600 people a day – perhaps as many as 250,000 visits a year.

Of these, many would be regular visitors to Felixstowe staying longer to experience the new attraction, but 50,000 would probably be new visitors.

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The average spend for a daytripper is £21 – creating a possible £1 million income for the resort.

At the moment the resort attracts around 3.5 million daytrippers a year and is a vital part of Suffolk Coastal's £143m tourism industry.

"A cost benefit analysis of the south seafront will be difficult because it will be free entry but we feel it will be a great success in the overall concept of resort regeneration," said Mr Osmanski.

"But we also want to encourage people to spend more and stay longer to give something to the local economy."

Mr Osmanski said it was hoped the ampitheatre would provide a big attraction and would be a suitable venue for concerts, music and theatre, while the restoration and opening of the Martello Tower – possibly as a museum – would provide a focal point and a magnet for visitors.

The development – which is to be financed by the building of 209 houses, including 22 social housing properties for rent – is aimed at families and the mature market.

The project was being discussed by the council's finance and management review committee after being "called in" for scrutiny "on the basis that the proposals are not offering the best strategic and sustainable return to residents and taxpayers of the district for the assets of the south seafront land".

The committee excluded press and public and went into private session to discuss the deal with chosen partners Bloor Homes as financial matters were deemed confidential.

n What do you think – is the plan a good deal for Felixstowe? Does it include enough leisure items or too many houses? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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