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A NEW KIND OF TOURISM

It is an uncomfortable fact that Newquay is simply not as busy as it used to be. Visitors are simply not spending as much money as they once did. The 2014 season appears to have been a good one, certainly in terms of visitor numbers. Some estimates suggesting a 25% increase in overseas visitors. However, with limits on when children can be taken out of school and a trend towards very ‘short breaks’ either side of the ‘high season’ the earlier part of the year was not so good; even with the weather the best for years.

Newquay needs to be put back to its rightful place as a glorious family holiday destination with a wonderful surfing themed backdrop. It is quietly regenerating after the stalled attempt at a complete redevelopment some six years ago, but has yet to re-establish itself back into the world tourism market. After negative publicity for several years with a ‘drunken lout’ culture the community, in co-operation with the Police, Newquay Town Consul, the County Council and the BID’s scheme combined so Newquay could return to the family resort it once was. However, after years of recession and a vast increase in cheap foreign tourist destinations the tourist market has moved on. Newquay will always have its surfing and its beaches but needs a global appeal. The Spaceport would be that.

Much was made of creating the Aero Hub. High technology businesses, the relocation of the Classic Airforce attraction and even rocket development. The Spaceport is simply a logical addition to this; even more high technology businesses and even more tourism. The addition of high tech businesses and their associated well paid employment has little, if any, downside. These are not heavy industries or significantly polluting industries, these are the industries Newquay, Cornwall and the UK need for its future.

But we are not just talking high tech industries we are talking a whole new tourism industry. If tourism is not just what Newquay and Cornwall are geared up for I do not know where is! The UK Spaceport is a futuristic attraction guaranteed with all the associated service industries that will grow. Entrepreneurs who come up with ideas we can’t even contemplate now. One criticism is that a Spaceport has got nothing to do with Cornwall’s identity, but neither have many of our most popular attractions. The EDEN Project in particular proved to be a hugely popular idea and created new visitors for years but this could have been built anywhere, it wasn’t Cornwall specific - it just happened to be here.

There also seems to be a fear of everything getting too busy and the area not able to cope. It was estimated at its peak that JUST Newquay supported a holiday season population of some 120,000. We are not even close to that now, the area can cope. It would be fantastic to see new hotels spring up and a have visitors with money in their pockets eat in the restaurants, shop in our shops and just spend money generally in local businesses.

Many complaints arise from the fact that Newquay Airport (RAF ST Mawgan) will become unpleasantly busy for those around it. Less than a decade ago this was a very busy US and UK Airforce base with thousands of resident military personnel. It’s now mothballed and apart from a few civilian and military flights it is indeed much quieter than it used too be. So, really anyone living nearby really needs to question whether the low use proposed would in any way be so bad as to stop the rewards of a Spaceport running there, certainly compared to is once active military use. It would simply revitalise the airport and add new flight routes and add greater choice. It would likely become closer to becoming self financing as national and international carriers would feel obliged to link to it. Transport aircraft and lots of support industries would also need to come down.

FUNDING.

Although not entirely clear it appears the government is looking at a funding pot of around £500 Million for various space projects including the Spaceport. Whether local government has to support the project financially at either the building stage or the ongoing management is again not entirely clear. Nor is how much private industry will contribute to the building and running costs. However, the chosen location will be the ‘UK Spaceport’ not just Newquay’s or Cornwall’s Spaceport so is likely to be largely centrally funded. Most estimations suggest though that it will be part of a business sector that will generate tens of billions of pounds. The boost to the local economy will be very significant.


THE BENEFITS

We say it is the next step for our tourism industry in the county,

others say it’s a step too far away from Cornwall’s picture postcard image

We see the building of the UK Spaceport as a great benefit to Newquay in particular and Cornwall as a whole. The initial construction would be a substantial building project and once built it would create well paid jobs in many cutting edge technologies. It has been said that it is selling the soul of Cornwall for ‘Pie in the Sky’ and for the sake of a few million pound executives ten minutes in space. As with all pioneering technologies the initial costs are high and only available to the few. The same was true of the now everyday transport of Ocean Liners, Trains and Air travel. This is not space travel of 60’s and 70’s with its high risk, this is a business. People are paying a lot of money to go up, then back down down, safely. This is cutting edge technology with years of testing and development. From clean burn rocketry, super efficient jet propulsion and some remarkable airframe composites. It is designed to be safer than air travel and the beginning of the next generation of air transport. For Newquay and Cornwall to be part of this from the beginning would a fantastic achievement.

Space is a very captivating concept for many and if the Spaceport is designed correctly it will be as much a tourist attraction in itself and not just for the trips it offers. Sightseers, families visiting with the space bound few, families visiting employees and those drawn by the inevitable publicity would re-invigorate the regions tourism economy. As history shows us to be in at the beginning always pays off. It is estimated space tourism, space transport, satellite development and various other space inspired technologies will become multi-billion pound industries. Even part of that revenue would add significantly to Cornwall’s economy. Newquay airport is already a Aerohub business zone and is licensed for rocket testing. Newquay and Cornwall already have a well established tourism infrastructure. Space tourism in Cornwall would appear a very logical next step in the regions economic regeneration and tourism development.

It would bring some noise and disruption to those living locally and would probably bring some level of additional pollution. It should be noted, however, that the site was a fully functional RAF and US Air Force base less than a decade ago. It has therefore experienced much higher levels of activity in its past compared to the current dormant state. If the Spaceport had been proposed to replace the day and night military activities of ten years ago with just occasional flights of space vehicles I think the local opinion may have been very different.

Over the next few months we will be adding greater details about the proposal and its estimated affects (both positive and negative) if it were to go ahead. Under the “YOUR SAY” tab we have a simple YES or NO poll and a Comment Box.


The Newquay, Cornwall Spaceport: One small step for Commercial Space Tourism, one giant leap for Newquay and Cornwall's Tourism Economy.



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