Major event needed to prevent £1m tourism loss over Spalding Flower Parade axing

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A REPLACEMENT must be found for Spalding Flower Parade if South Holland is not to lose out on more than a £1m a year from tourism.

Spalding and District Area Chamber of Trade has called on the district and county councils to start putting plans together for a major event to draw in tourists in 2014 after the announcement that next year’s flower parade will be the last.

President Phil Scarlett said: “We’ve had the bad news but now we need to start thinking about what will replace it because 2014 will come along before anyone thinks about it and makes any plans.

“I absolutely believe we need something, possibly a flower and food festival, but if you are starting from scratch these things take more than a year to plan, so we need to start now.”

Mr Scarlett said the chamber would be happy to be involved in discussions about the future, and he believed other organisations would be too – but said it was down to South Holland District Council to drive the project.

He said: “It’s the council’s responsibility for kicking it off. But when you talk to people from outside of the area the flower parade is what Spalding is known for and it’s an important way of bringing people into the area.

“People need a reason to come to South Holland, but once they get here they realise Spalding is a nice little town beside the river and come back again and again.”

And the chamber’s tourism spokesman David Norton said the flower parade brought in tourists who spent around £1.2m a year in the area.

But its value extended beyond that as visitors often returned at other times of the year.

He said: “There needs to be something to replace it.

“Other market towns that don’t have an event like this are suffering from empty shops and the like, but Spalding benefits because people remember us.”