A new initiative to attract more visitors to the Clare area, and with it boost the local economy, has been launched.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge and a host of guests, including local business people and town, borough and county representatives attended the launch of Visit Clare at the Clare Park Lake Golf Course last Friday.
The event also gave the golf club a chance to open its new conference/meeting room, which is available to hire.
Visit Clare, formerly Tourism Clare, aims to enhance tourism in the area and also draw on the town being part of the Wool Towns Association.
Mr Cartlidge praised one of Visit Clare’s main aims, to make the e area one that can rival the Cotswolds, adding: “I think the really good thing about it is that it will be proactive and promote your area.
Jon Miles, economic development officer for St Edmundsbury Council also emphasised how the authority’s main aim in supporting the project was to ‘ensure the growth of the local economy’, including offering support and helping Visit Clare to access funding streams.
Paul Bishop, chairman of Clare Town Council said: “What we are trying to do with the whole Visit Clare initiative is to get more people to come and visit Clare.
“Once you get them here they will continue to come back, that’s what this project is all about.”
Susan Moore, owner of the golf club, added: “The tourism forum of the town council was set up to address a decrease in footfall across the Town replicated I have to say, throughout the area.
“Rather than lament the issue, we have decided to be proactive in addressing it.
“As you can see…it has been a serious undertaking from a group of people representing the town and its businesses and culminates in the creation of business plan to increase footfall and in particular overnight stays in the area.
“In conjunction with a similar project - The Wool Towns Association representing Clare, Hadleigh, Long Melford, Lavenham and now Sudbury - we are all working to create an awareness of an area similar to what you think of when you hear ‘The Cotswolds’.
“We have such a lot that we can offer and these two initiatives are working hard to promote us and in turn benefit the whole community.”
A business plan, including marketing and PR and accessing EU funding for up to £30,000, has been devised to drive Visit Clare forward.
The Marketing Plan described in the Business Plan document says: “Visit Clare’s ambition is to establish a brand for this distinct part of West Suffolk and them champion the locality to potential visitors, with an emphasis on average duration of visits and on increasing footfall outside of the ‘high season.’”
The Business Plan also states the importance of forming partnerships with the private sector, local businesses and community associations plus county and borough councils and tourism bodies.
The primary partner for the scheme will be Bury & Beyond, but Visit Clare will also ‘engage with Visit Suffolk and Visit East Anglia as the regional leads for the East of England’ together with Visit Essex.