Visit Lincolnshire bids farewell

The Lincolnshire tourism board Visit Lincolnshire announced that it would stop trading after March 31 due to insufficient funding.

As the Lincolnshire County Council prepares to confirm its 2011/12 budgets in February, the authority plans to scrap £205,000 of funding to Visit Lincolnshire.

The county tourism board lost most of its funding as the soon to be abolished East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) supplied another £400,000 per year.

The Lincolnshire County Council and EMDA funding represented over 70% of the Visit Lincolnshire funding.

Visit Lincolnshire said it has cut operational costs by 46% in the last year, yet the board’s website is estimated to cost £100,000 per year to run.

Over the past two months Visit Lincolnshire tried to mount a media campaign to change the County Council’s mind over funding cuts to the board.

But the County Council did not back down on its decision, as the authority has to make budget cuts of around £125 million over four years.

Visit Lincolnshire said its official administrator will begin the process of the disposing of the business and its assets in mid February.

Around 10 jobs will be lost at Visit Lincolnshire from March, though the board is still hopeful that the County Council would change its mind over funding.

The Visit Lincolnshire directors decided that a notice of intention to appoint administrators will be lodged at court during the next few days.

It is anticipated that the appointment of the administrators will be confirmed by the middle of February if sufficient funding is not forthcoming.

In the meantime, Visit Lincolnshire’s business will continue as usual until such time as the administrators are in place.

Visit Lincolnshire is the county’s only tourism board, claiming to represent a visitor economy worth around £1 billion, supporting more than 17,000 jobs.

‘Lincolnshire will be left out in the cold’

Marc Etches, Interim Chief Executive of Visit Lincolnshire said that the county will be at a loss with no tourism board left to promote it.

“As a direct consequence of the loss of public funding, most recently from Lincolnshire County Council, Visit Lincolnshire’s Board has made a very difficult decision to begin the process of appointing administrators.

“Despite our best efforts to persuade Lincolnshire County Council to recognise the value of Visit Lincolnshire and our role in promoting and growing tourism– worth £1 billion to the local economy and employing 17,000 people throughout the county – Lincolnshire will be left out in the cold nationally and internationally.

“Considering the economic impact of tourism, it is disappointing that the County Council, unlike District Authorities, have not seen Visit Lincolnshire’s value in the same light. Instead they have decided to stop engaging, in what has until now, been a successful partnership.”

Jon Grubb, the Chairman of Visit Lincolnshire and editor of the Lincolnshire Echo said the County Council’s funding cuts are a “huge gamble”.

“I am hugely disappointed that Visit Lincolnshire has been forced into administration. The advice the directors received was that, without the core county council funding, we would be in danger of trading insolvently.

“The directors agreed to the step with a heavy heart but felt we had to act responsibly in both a moral and financial sense.

“It means, for the first time in several decades, there won’t a body promoting tourism to the county.

“In my opinion that’s a huge gamble with an industry worth nearly £1 billion a year.

“The dedicated staff and the directors have done everything in their power to try to save the organization and I’m sorry our efforts weren’t successful.

“I think when we look back at this episode in the months to come we will realize it was a mistake,” Grubb added.

Related Reports: BBC Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire Echo