‘Sidmouth needs to appeal to younger audience’

PUBLISHED: 17:30 30 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:43 04 January 2018

Tourists flock to Sidmouth beach. Picture: Alex Walton

Tourists flock to Sidmouth beach. Picture: Alex Walton

Archant

Sidmouth needs to find ways of reaching a broader audience or it risks being ‘left behind’.

Town councillor Ian Barlow warned the tourism and economy committee the existing printed brochure may not be effective for long, and argued representatives need to investigate new approaches.

But more than 17,000 paper guides were sent out last year and his colleagues said this reflects Sidmouth’s appeal to a ‘certain kind of person’.

Speaking at a meeting this month, Councillor Barlow said: “How many people look in a brochure now to go on holiday? Emails are the thing that’s valuable, but we aren’t doing anything with them. It’s an asset we must make more of.

“If every single other resort goes electronic and we’re the only ones with a brochure, we’re going to get left behind.”

“I love the town guide, but I’m concerned if we aren’t reaching new people – that’s what scares me. We aren’t moving forward. We try to attract older people, but our customers die – we have to attract new customers.”

He said the council could reach 100,000 people on Facebook for a fraction of the price of sending out guides.

Cllr Sheila Kerridge added: “People getting a brochure are a captive audience. We want to appeal to the young – the people that wouldn’t give Sidmouth a second look. They’re the people we have to get on board.”

Cllr Louise Cole said Sidmouth’s many festivals and groups, like the surf lifesaving club, prove that the town is changing, and suggested discussing ways of reaching new audiences with the organisers. She said the council could send out a monthly email to stay in people’s mind and keep them informed of upcoming events.

Cllr Ian McKenzie-Edwards argued that the guide remains effective. He said: “We provide a certain experience which, I dare say, appeals to a certain kind of person. The fact we still send out 17,872 guides rather proves that. There isn’t a pressing need to alter the balance of things.”

Town clerk Christopher Holland said: “I don’t think we should sit on our laurels. We’ve got to look at new ways of selling Sidmouth. We know Sidmouth has its own strengths that put it streets ahead of other resorts. We have to be proud of our town, but we can’t be complacent. We should be looking at all the different ways of attracting people.”

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