TV tourists put town on the map – but we need to protect Holmfirth, councillor says

TOWNS which attract TV tourists can expect an increase in visitor numbers of up to 400%.

Nora Batty's steps also became a local landmark
Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine

TOWNS which attract TV tourists can expect an increase in visitor numbers of up to 400%.

Places like Holmfirth have been boosted by Last of the Summer Wine and a hit TV show can put a town on the map for good, a new survey revealed today.

But a leading councillor warns that in a bid to protect the £35m Kirklees makes in tourism each year, they need to support plans to encourage it.

Clr Ken Sims said he was disappointed the £200,000 ringfenced to promote Holmfirth’s heritage – including Bamforths, famed for seaside postcards, and Last of the Summer Wine – was spent elsewhere.

Clr Sims said: “Last of the Summer Wine has been fantastic for us, and even though it’s ended we’ve got to do all we can to take advantage of it having been here.

“We’ve got to promote the countryside, the walks, reservoirs and fishing.

“Kirklees gets £35m a year from tourism, if you don’t look after that you lose your golden egg.”

Plans to recognise the TV show’s legacy have fallen victim to the spending cuts. In March councillors voted to scrap funding on Holmfirth Heritage Garden.

His comments came after it was revealed places like Holmfirth and Highclere Castle in Berkshire can see visitor numbers boosted by up to 400%.

Highclere Castle is where Downton Abbey is filmed and research by the motoring and leisure association CSMA says they can expect to see more TV tourism this summer after the TV show’s success.

Other places to have been boosted by increased visits are Barry Island in South Wales, the setting for Gavin And Stacey; the villages of Box and Neston in Wiltshire, where Lark Rise To Candleford is filmed; Cardiff, the location for Doctor Who; and Turville in Buckinghamshire the home of The Vicar Of Dibley.

Movies are also inspiring visits, with locations including Gloucester Cathedral which featured in the Harry Potter films.

CSMA managing director Mark Rothery said: “While there may be a perception that watching TV stops us getting outside and enjoying the countryside, this research shows that our love of great British TV programmes and films has actually boosted the UK tourism industry.

“These locations are a fantastic choice for a family day out and hopefully their on-screen connections will get more people discovering Britain’s fascinating heritage.”

In Holmfirth the success continues; only last week the Examiner revealed that bookings to visit Nora Batty’s house have been made until 2013.

The Huddersfield Road cottage appeared in dozens of episodes of The Last Of The Summer Wine from 1973 onwards.

It was available to rent as a self-catering cottage holiday but is now up for sale for £180,000.

The house, formerly occupied by two tenants for over 20 years, was opened as a holiday cottage in January, 2006, by actress Kathy Staff, who died aged 80 in 2008.

Owner Neil Worthington said bookings had increased since they stopped filming.

Over the past 25 years, tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world have flocked to the Holme Valley to see the locations made famous by the likes of Compo, Clegg and Foggy.

 
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