Grantham area can pull in more visitors, says new man at tourism helm
A former manager of Belvoir Castle now has a much larger patch to sell – all of South Kesteven.
Andrew Norman has joined InvestSK as its head of the visitor economy, tasked with promoting the district to tourists and other visitors.
Andrew has looked after visitor attractions for 25 years, with his last role as chief executive of the Rockingham Castle Estate.
He said: “My job is to raise the profile of South Kesteven, to bring visitors to the area. Visitors are often perceived to be from overseas but can include visitors from Stamford coming to Grantham and vice versa. It’s about bringing people in to see what’s here.”
Andrew was born and bred in Edinburgh, with previous roles including being an estate agent in London and Surrey and two years in the Army, which saw a six-month tour of Northern Ireland.
He continued: “You tend not to go out and see what’s on your doorstep. Grantham has amazing places, buildings and people. There is potential for walking routes around the town and to explore our rural villages, churches and pubs. We have excellent pubs.”
South Kesteven also has easy cycling and walking, and Lincolnshire is celebrating the RAF Centenary this year.
“It’s not all about Stamford. If you are prepared to get in your car and put your boots on, there’s so much to enjoy. This area has so much to offer but it’s an area not good at selling itself. I hope we can reverse that and see the place as positive.”
Just weeks into the job, Andrew, who lives in Kilvington, near Bottesford, has been doing research to present a plan to InvestSK later this month.
He says it’s too early to say much about budgets and projects but tasks will include revamping the Southwestlincolnshire.co.uk website, working with Visit Lincolnshire and Visit England as well as attending major trade fairs to make sure the tourism industry knows of South Kesteven’s delights such as Belton House.
There will be further promotions on social media and Andrew says he is keen for “buy in” from those working in the district’s tourism sector. He is keen for visitor attractions, shops, B&B operators and others to contact him to have their say.
“It’s about adding impetus to what we are doing. We are trying to help the small business on the ground to do better- help their profile, social media, marketing. We want to create a brand. South Kesteven is not a recognised location. A brand would become the forward-facing image of the area.
“We also need to look at signage on the A1; it’s very intermittent. We need proper signage telling people what there is. And out of the brand, I hope we become a destination.”
South Kesteven District Council estimates that the district enjoys some £130 million a year of benefits accruing from tourists and other visitors.
The father of two explained: “It’s very easy to look and not see the benefits of visitors. But they help small businesses pay their rates. With attractions people will want to work in an area. For businesses thinking about moving here, after considering housing, schools and shopping, they will ask themselves ‘what can we do with the children on Saturday?’ and ‘Can we fish?’ It’s also just as relevant to those that live here what there is to do.”
And keen to get cracking, Andrew offers a familiar message: “We need to have a good offer, a well-stocked high street and variety. It’s not just about Grantham, I’m talking widely. If we have an attractive high street, people will come in.”