Ironman triathlon and Seaham’s own Angel of the North among ideas to boost tourism

Niall Benson, heritage coast officer, says the suggestions could spark action
Niall Benson, heritage coast officer, says the suggestions could spark action
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AN ICONIC structure on the scale of the Angel of the North, and a takeover of a rundown high street, are among the ideas to capitalise on an area’s tourism potential.

Other ideas to draw crowds and cash into East Durham include an Iron Man competition, festivals celebrating music, film, its mining heritage and Seaham’s links with Lord Byron, a sailing regatta and a surfing competition.

Business leaders’ were also asked to make suggestions, and the believe activity breaks and an iconic structure on the scale of Anthony Gormley’s Angel or the statues at Crosby Beach in Merseyside, could be the key. The wish list is in the draft Destination Development Plan for the Durham Heritage Coast, which says while strides have been made to provide more for visitors, rundown town centres, little desire to stay overnight and no attractions are holding it back.

Church Street in Seaham, which is earmarked for improvements, is singled out for action, and suggests a compulsory purchase order, where buildings are bought without the consent of their owners, “might be the only solution.”

Niall Benson, Durham Heritage Coast officer, said: “It’s a starting point for us to look forward.

“It’s come not just from our aspirations, but from consultation from businesses as well.”

The research also shows although tourists generate £105million-plus, day trippers spend just £14 each, with most staying with friends or family rather than guest accommodation. It adds East Durham must offer more than its competition, which includes Whitby, Scarborough, South Shields and Tynemouth.