August 23, 2016
Strong backing given to new Burnham project to attract coach visitors

Over 50 business owners and residents attended a meeting in Burnham-On-Sea last night (Monday) to give their support to a new project that aims to encourage more coach visitors into the town.

The new scheme is being jointly run by Burnham Chamber of Trade and BIARS (Burnham Information And Rescue Support), which runs the town's tourist information centre, and Burnham and Highbridge Town Council.

It aims to bring 1,000 coaches a year into Burnham, once it starts, generating a projected annual benefit to the economy of around £100,000 to help the viability of existing businesses and support jobs in the town centre.

Les Barber, who is leading the new scheme, told last night's meeting in the town's Ritz Social Club: "This is a golden opportunity for everyone to work together to put the buzz back into Burnham. We want the coach drivers and passengers to know that they are warmly welcome here, and we also look forward to working together with our neighbours in Brean and Berrow to promote local coach tourism."

Burnham's Mayor Cllr Michael Clarke, who was one of several town councillors who attended Monday's meeting, said afterwards: "I'm delighted to see everyone working together to take get this project underway - I look forward to seeing it further developed in coming months. It has got off to a very positive start."

Alex Turco, Vice Chairman of Burnham Chamber of Trade, said: "I'm thrilled that we have had such a positive start for our new coach project. The Chamber is looking forward to further progressing the scheme and encouraging as much engagement from Burnham's business community as possible."

Tom Ashton, Chairman at BIARS, added: "I am delighted that BIARS will continue to be a key partner in the coach project and we look to another busy few years ahead with coaches coming back to Burnham."

The new project was awarded £2,000 of grant funding in July from the Town Council. Other funding has been applied for from the Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership (HTAP), along with expected support from local businesses.

A raffle during Monday's event raised £140 for the project and there were also several pledges of financial support for the scheme from town businesses.

The launch comes after Burnham's original 'Project Coach', a scheme that launched three years ago to encourage coach companies to visit Burnham, ran out of funding earlier this year. It was hailed a big success after winning the coveted title of 'Coach Friendly Destination of the Year' for Burnham at the 2016 National Coach Tourism Awards.


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