How to transform maritime trade centres into vibrant cultural hubs, replete with leisure and hospitality attractions? It seems that Freeports are a good place to start.
Firstly, we know that the tax reliefs of Freeports should incentivise local business investment and even encourage firms to relocate. The increased business investment should in turn lead to meetings, conferences and events in the Freeport areas which require suitable venues, catering, and accommodation. This demand for hospitality coupled with the Freeports’ streamlined planning initiatives should encourage capital from hoteliers and restauranteurs eager to grasp a stake in a new market.
Secondly, general regeneration in Freeports may lead to improved infrastructure, local amenities, and transport. Well-marketed these could help lure leisure travellers to waterfront locations of the maritime trade centres. The popularity of UK waterside locations has been confirmed during the pandemic with visitors seeking attractive views and aquatic leisure activities.
Freeports may provide a much-needed a boost to the regional hospitality industry but tourism, leisure and hospitality could also contribute to the long-term success of Freeports and the regeneration of the wider region.
The arrival of tourism into under-invested areas can create a virtuous circle. Tourism contributes to the local economy and encourages further funding for local resources and diverse business sectors. The demand created by visitors for enhanced leisure facilities, retail, and hospitality leads to further supply. This can lead to improved services and employment prospects for local and regional residents too.
The creation of new skilled jobs in lively, regenerated areas might entice more home-grown talent to enter the hospitality industry in a post-Brexit era. Moreover, consumers’ growing desire for authentic and ethical travel should lead to more efforts to conserve the natural landscapes around Freeports, more sustainable investment and a greater engagement with and respect for the local community.
As ever, the planning, execution, and external socio-economic factors will determine whether this comes to happen. There is the potential to see Freeports becoming not only economically-competitive business hubs but also cultural and tourist destinations. Tourism could help to contribute to the perception and viability of Freeports as well as providing an incentive for ethical and environmentally sustainable development.
Visit our Freeports hub for more information