Tourists to Brighouse have helped generate £2million to the Brighouse economy with 200,000 visitors coming to the town.
The Brighouse Business Initiative (BBI) gave a presentation on how they can maintain the strong impact the retailers have had in helping to put together events such as 1940s Weekend, The Victorian Christmas Festival, the Brighouse Festival and the recent Canal & Music Festival.
In four years the BBI, through these festivals, has turned Brighouse into one of the largest tourist attractions in the area.
What is even more remarkable is that this has all been achieved by volunteers with almost no external funding.
Lesley Adams, chair of the BBI said that their success in now going global with people from the Netherlands booking a trip to the town specially for the Victorian Christmas weekend.
“Visitors often think our events are run by the council but this is far from the case. Whilst Calderdale Council facilitate with some aspects of the operation, they charge us over £7,000 per year to put them on,” said Lesley Adams, chair of the BBI.
To highlight the town’s tourism potential, the BBI organised this presentation at the Holiday Inn, Clifton.
Councillors, tour operators, coach and rail companies heard how they can join in with the success. Sean English, managing director of Grand Central Rail and Jennifer Lawton of Holiday Inn gave key note presentations on the benefits to their companies of the Brighouse events.
Steven Lord, another of the organisers said: “We have 1.5 million people living within a 15 mile radius of Brighouse. Recent surveys show that a large proportion of our visitors come from outside of Calderdale with many staying over in local hotels. Brighouse has the capacity to cope with these huge visitor numbers with over 500 hotel and B&B rooms available. We are seeing ever increasing visitor numbers from all over the UK and even abroad.”
This impact of these events is not just financial. Many benefits to the community have sprung up on the back of this success. Incredible Edible Brighouse, which is responsible for looking after and planting over 15 sites around the town with flowers and vegetables, gave a presentation and received an award from Britain in Bloom at the meeting. Guests also heard from David Bedding, chairman of Friends of Brighouse Station, on how the volunteers have transformed the platforms with flowers baskets and planters. They also received an award from Britain in Bloom.
John Buxton from the BBI summarised: “Our offer is not made from plastic and cardboard, it’s real, set in stone and goes go back to the Roman times.
“We’ve not got beaches or sunshine but we do have sunbeds and swimming pools and lots more.
“Look around and you’ll find a host of famous people from this part of England.
“It’s bred many of the good and great. The area has featured in bestselling books, plays and films. An untapped market waiting to be merchandised and Brighouse is trying very hard to sell it and we see it as an opportunity to gain from our enthusiasm for our town to the benefit of our people and businesses.”