The BALANCE project concluded in December 2013 – its achievements include:
- A Visitor & Tourism Strategy - raising awareness of landscapes and leading to informed choices regarding future visitor areas.
- Improvements to the Suffolk Coast Path, Sandlings Walk and Stour & Orwell Walk
- 55 information boards and Explorer guides to help you enjoy the AONB
- Development of the ‘I’m a Good Dog!’ campaign for responsible dog ownership.
- Promoting car-free itineraries for visitors.
- Gathering information and data on the number of visitors to the AONB and their profile.
- A detailed socio-economic study of the Suffolk Coast Path, Sandlings Walk and Stour & Orwell Walk.
Are we BALANCED? – We've summarised some of the findings below or you can download the Socio-Economic Study - Summary
The visitors are happy indeed
The rate of contentment is high. But it is important to survey the visitors and to know where there is a need for improvements.
Good neighbours visit often
People look for a green area in their neighbourhood. They visit these areas frequently (more than once a month and often more than once a week). Tourists like to visit nature conservation areas of international importance and often spend more than one day in these regions.
The promotion and communication of BALANCE regions must be targeted (for example our tourism strategy) - it’s important that local promotion/communication is provided to local people. Promotion on (inter)national levels must ensure the overall investments and benefits are known to a wider community.
Fortysomethings reign in these regions
BALANCE regions need to adapt the facilities for this group but also need greater consideration of younger people as BALANCE areas generally had lower numbers in this group.
A view, a loo and a brew
Walking and cycling, in combination with enjoying the landscape/nature/wildlife are the main activities of the visitors in BALANCE regions and need to be strengthened. And most visitors like to eat or drink something during their trip!
Better regional BALANCE
BALANCE regions generate economic benefit. Most of the visitors spend or want to spend money in the region – visiting a pub/tea-room or restaurant being the most popular.
For Example: In the Economic Impact Assessment of Tourism of Suffolk AONB the direct income from tourism equates just under £190 million per annum, with a further £43.7 million generated through indirect spend. Combined, this spend supports around 3,600 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs.
To ensure the investment made through BALANCE is fully embedded in the local economy, further work on improving and increasing the accommodation offer is needed.
This cross-border cooperation project between five organisations from the Netherlands, Flanders and the United Kingdom was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Total Project Budget:
€ 7 million
Total EU Funding for the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB:
€254,400/£219,000 (from ERDF, Interreg IVa 2 Seas Programme).
Total match funding generated by the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB and partner organisations:
Flemish Land Agency (VLM), Deltanatuur, RSPB (Cornwall), Kent County Council (Economic Development).
Partners in the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB included Suffolk County Council; Suffolk Coastal District Council; Natural England; Suffolk Secrets; Thorpeness and Aldeburgh Hotels.
For more information contact Neil Lister, BALANCE Project Manager