Chamber Chat with David Jarratt
In recent years, I, along with some of my colleagues at UCLan, have been researching and writing about seaside resorts, with a particular focus on Morecambe. Some of our conclusions relate to the importance of both the natural and built environment to a distinctive ‘sense of place’ which can be found in traditional English resorts. By sense of place, we mean a combination of our interaction with a location and the meanings we associate with it. It is an important element of visitor appeal and can be used to inform destination marketing. Indeed, the Morecambe Bay Local Nature Partnership has developed a Sense of Place toolkit, which ‘has been produced for businesses working around Morecambe Bay that are interested in promoting what's special and unique about the area with their visitors and clients’.
The way the distinctive elements of places are communicated has changed and these days sites such as the Winter Gardens or Midland Hotel are increasingly (and quite rightly), valued as heritage. However, some elements of Morecambe’s appeal do not seem to have changed since it developed as a popular resort in the 19th century. Namely, the views across the bay, which used to be the subject of so many postcards – often featuring sunsets. I stumbled across a guidebook from 1899 that states, ‘…there is nothing strictly ancient about Morecambe except the land and the sea, and there is no doubt that these must ever remain the chief attractions of the place’ (Johnsons Guides for the People 1899, p.6). Through Morecambe’s highs and lows, that view has continued to offer a distinctive appeal. The bay and its birdlife informed the Tern project - an important improvement to the promenade over twenty years ago. More recently I interviewed visitors for whom these open spaces were an important part of their visit. For example, one said, ‘…you know, look across the bay and the views and all the rest of it. I think that’s the biggest draw.’
In short, views over the bay are a long-standing part of the resort’s appeal and having a distinctive environment (both built and natural) is important in the visitor economy. With this in mind, the bold proposals for Eden Project North seem the perfect development for the resort; its focus will, of course, be the bay itself – the very thing Morecambe is named after and the physical feature which defines the area which is set to benefit from this new attraction. Essentially this is why I have written this short piece, to voice my support for the project, which appears to be a good fit and a great opportunity for Morecambe.
Dr David Jarratt
Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management
Lancashire School of Business and Enterprise