Lancaster and Morecambe are to be rebranded as visitor destinations, because research indicates that with a bit of tweaking they could, hopefully, sound a lot more attractive to visitors than they do at present. Apparently, research has identified Lancaster as being relatively unknown outside the 'unloved and desolate' Northwest, and Morecambe as being associated with the decline experienced by many seaside towns.
Destination marketing experts Cairn Consultancy have led a project funded by Lancashire County Council, Marketing Lancashire and Lancaster City Council, involving local councils, organisations and businesses. Aimed at finding the best way to market the area as a place to visit and invest, two different but complementary destination brands have been identified by the consultants:
Firstly, please open your hearts and wallets to 'Morecambe Bay' - a brand which is set around the outstanding landscape of Morecambe Bay. The brand will celebrate the Bay’s natural, cultural, heritage, recreational and outdoor assets, its coastal towns and villages, and Morecambe as its established capital. (For the purpose of this branding there is no such thing as a geriatric nuclear power station, and we hope you will all remember that. 'Remember what?' we hear you ask. Excellent.)
The second new brand is 'Lancaster' - a destination brand which is set around the history, heritage and culture of the City of Lancaster. The brand will also celebrate the Lune Valley, accessed from the River Lune Millennium Park in the city centre, as a key recreational asset. Think of it as 'Lancaster & Lune'.
Tim Dixon of English Lakes Hotels said:
"Because of its diverse and unique make-up ranging from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty right through to an unrivalled culture and arts scene, the area should be proud enough to stand as tall, if not above many of the more widely recognised destination brands in the UK. Couple this with excellent communication links and a passionate local community, and you have the ideal welcoming framework for future investment and potential, as well as already being a well-established tourism product."
Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership is way ahead of the pack, and said:
“With Morecambe Bay as a brand we have one of the country’s most exceptional natural and cultural landscapes and strong brand awareness. Morecambe is the capital of the Bay and the coastline has proud cultural histories and is rich with places of exceptional charm and visitor appeal.
"We all know that Morecambe Bay is unique and magical. This research confirms this – the visitor experience of the Bay area is unlike anywhere else. A day or a week around Morecambe Bay is special and unique. Through the Partnership work we're really excited to be working together to make more of the rich cultural offer and celebrate and the outstanding landscapes."
Suzi Bunting of the Lancaster BID said:
"The challenge is now going to begin, to relay the proposed long term branding strategy with individual businesses and for visitors to gain greater awareness of the identified destinations for Morecambe Bay and Lancaster. Hopefully the Lancaster Business Improvement District, working closely with the businesses within the City of Lancaster will be able to assist with this. Wishing to bring together Lancaster’s unique artistic heritage, retail sector, natural and historical assets to create a city centre that’s alive with culture, expression and vibrancy."
Partner organisations are now looking forward to making plans for the next steps of the work, for both Morecambe Bay and Lancaster.