Guest Column: Bassetlaw needs to become a Mayflower tourist trap

The Mayflower Pilgrims exhibition at Retford Hub
The Mayflower Pilgrims exhibition at Retford Hub

According to Visit Britain, tourism in this country now accounts for nine per cent of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Tourism employs 9.6 per cent of the workforce and is one of the fastest growing parts of the economy, with 30 per cent of all new jobs being tourist-related.

Our area, here in Retford and the wider Bassetlaw district, is not known for industrialisation or commerce, nor do we have big universities or Government departments for employment.

And so, statistically, we have far fewer people of working age and a greater proportion of older people than the national average, and pay is below average.

This reduces the prosperity of our region, leading to lower house prices, fewer services, dying towns and more poverty.

We need tourists.

We have the opportunity, with the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Pilgrims, to attract more tourists.

A Visit Britain survey shows that 17 million Americans will visit the UK in 2020

In Plymouth, £270 million is being spent over the next few years in readines.

And Southampton Council last month approved spending £400,000 related to the Pilgrims this year alone in its city.

However, our area is at the heart of this story.

This is where the Pilgrims came from and this is where the tourists should visit.

But if you go to Plymouth you will find the Pilgrim story is everywhere – street names, statues, landmarks, road signs and more – which is amazing since they only stayed overnight.

Our challenge is to transform our town and area into a Mayflower Pilgrim destination and put ourselves on the map.

It is calculated that 17 million people will bring more than £14 million to the British economy.

We need some of that.

It would be so easy for the tour buses to whistle through our lanes, visiting the churches involved.

But they are staying in hotels in other areas, and visiting attractions in other counties – and that is what is happening now.

The Hub, located on Church Gate by the Cannon in Retford, contains a permanent museum and exhibition about the Pilgrims and we urge local people to visit to discover more, find out about the story and think about what you can do to help.

We are also working on a variety of projects and are partnering with organisations to promote the town and the story.

If you would like to know more, visit www.mayflowerpilgrimcentre.uk.

To get involved please contact volunteers through the Hub or email chris@retfordhub.org

For more information about everything on offer at the Hub, visit the website at www.retfordhub.org.