Resort aims to go upmarket

ILFRACOMBE is set to launch a major campaign to tap into the massive spending power of its millions of annual visitors. A new report, compiled by research company CACI, has revealed the seaside town has a tourist retail market potential in excess of �35 m

ILFRACOMBE is set to launch a major campaign to tap into the massive spending power of its millions of annual visitors.

A new report, compiled by research company CACI, has revealed the seaside town has a tourist retail market potential in excess of �35 million.

However, a survey analysis showed that visitors were not happy with the current retail mix of the town, with 64 per cent suggesting improvements, the majority of which wanted to see an increase in "upmarket independent retailers."

Visitors also recommended changes to the catering on offer with 39 per cent wanting to see more upmarket independent restaurants.


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The report, commissioned by the economic delivery agency North Devon Plus, concluded that if Ilfracombe is to attract more affluent tourists to the town "it is crucial the catering and retail mix suits their needs."

"The results of this report are incredible," said Sally Nelson of the North Devon Plus Joint delivery Team.

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"The people visiting Ilfracombe are wealthier than we thought."

The report was presented during a meeting at Ilfracombe's Crescent Hotel. Businesses across the town were invited to attend with the aim of setting up an Ilfracombe Business Forum to act as a voice for the whole of the Ilfracombe business community.

Ron Ley, who chaired the meeting, said: "There is a need to have a wider up-market offering. We've got to look at how we promote ourselves to tourists and try to improve.

"The town is taking charge of its own management," added the Ilfracombe town councillor. "We're no longer holding out the begging bowl to find grant money; we want to be more pro-active and target where we find grants."

CACI's report cited "an over representation of convenience outlets within the town, mainly due to the large number of newsagents."

The report went on to recommend that the opening of more upmarket retail units and eateries and some improvements to the public realm would give Ilfracombe "a more upmarket image and inevitably appeal to more of the affluent visitors that Ilfracombe is looking to attract."

As the meeting concluded, a vote was taken in favour of continuing with the business forum sessions and a follow-up meeting was scheduled for November 17.

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