Wednesday 2 March 2011

In the media: Turner Could be World Renowned

An article from Kent News asks whether Turner will bring change to Margate.

But I wonder if these changes will really be driven by Turner or more a sign of the times.

Isn't it more the case that British Tourism is changing, as are the lives of the general population?

People now eat quality food at home, enjoy clean homes, sleep in good beds and linen and have nice bathrooms with hot running water and good showers. The tourism industry cannot offer people less than they have at home. They have a choice on where to visit. No longer do seaside resorts have a captive audience. And in the era of Trip Advisor, people find out about other people's bad experiences very quickly.

"Changing attitudes is perhaps the biggest challenge any politician, any opinion-maker, anywhere, faces.

Altering the way people live, interact and behave can rarely be achieved overnight, more often taking a generation to truly bed in.

After all, we all learn methods and modes of behaviour from our parents and grandparents. It takes them to change, to ensure the next generation alters its mindset too.

All of which brings us to what is being expected of the good folk of Thanet right now.

The arrival of the Turner Contemporary has long since split opinion, long since divided the local populace.

But whatever your view on it, a change in the way we act is being demanded.

However pessimistic many are about quite what its opening will mean, how successful, in the long term, it will prove, the one thing that is certain is that it will open the gates to a flood of visitors.

It is a genuine pivotal moment in Margate’s, in particular, history. But to ensure its opening benefits the whole area that different mindset is being required.

Tourism chiefs are urging a sea change in our approach to visitors. Taxi drivers are being required to be more cheerful and helpful, ditto owners of hotels and bed and breakfasts. Other attractions on the isle too are being urged to up their game.

The purpose? To ensure those people travelling to Margate for the first time to visit the art gallery head back down the Thanet Way feeling that they want to return. That they had a good day out and they want to come back and spend more time, and crucially money, in our area.

It makes good sense, after all. The local economy is in desperate need of a boost. To re-activate tourism as a major draw could transform our towns once again. But you don’t need telling that. That has long since been the mantra recited time and time again with every passing mention of the Turner’s arrival.

It would be so very easy, after all, to say that an art gallery cannot, alone, transform an area single-handedly. And the answer is, of course, that alone, it cannot. But it can provide the catalyst for change. Yet it is our attitudes which must change too. We must be open to the concepts of being more friendly, more welcoming. Of proving to visitors far and wide that where we live deserves far more recognition that simply being an area cited as the classic example of a once boom area in a terminal decline due to cheap flights and a changing populace brought about by a lack of local industry and cheaper house prices.

The reality is that if we all shrug our shoulders and say ‘come on Turner, you do all the hard work and we expect to see the changes’ it won’t happen. We’ll just be known as the declining seaside town which even turned its back on a golden opportunity too.

So let us all pull together for our mutual benefit. Let us all embrace the changes and give it a chance to transform our lives. A chance to bring visitors back to our towns, a chance to prove to retailers they should once again be in our town centres occupying empty shops, that this great, beautiful isle is worthy of praise and not patronising comments and sneers."

1 comment:

  1. Yes totally agree,progress can already be seen in the old town,traders really friendly,good variety of shops,bring it on..