While it was a great opportunity for the town, I can't admit to being particularly inspired by the efforts of the 'Apprentices' in re-branding Margate, shown on the BBC programme last night. Whether it be attracting family tourism or the 'pink pound' the contestants seemed to be short of good ideas and their efforts revealed the real challenges the town faces in regenerating itself and attracting tourism to sustain its seasonal economy.
Ironically, while Margate was suggested as potential destination for gay tourism, Canterbury is in the papers today, accused of not being gay-enough.
A complaint has been lodged with the Local Government Ombudsman by the Pride in Canterbury pressure group which also complained about the "stereotypical" depiction of a homosexual character in a play staged at the city's Marlowe theatre.
What 'The Apprentice' illustrated well last night, were Margate's fabulous seafront view and its beach but the programme revealed some of the many legacy problems that have to be solved if the town is to fulfill its potential. In the present harsh economic climate real progress is bound to be slower than people would wish. Surprisingly, the contestants entirely missed the creative arts debate, the building of the Turner Contemporary and the re-development of its Old Town as potential opportunities in attracting new visitors, pink or otherwise.
A great many people are working together from many different organisations as part of a broad and energetic effort to resurrect Margate's fortunes as a premier seaside destination. I think I may have written in an earlier entry, that if the town were to attract the genorosity of a passing Arab Sheikh, like the ruler of Dubai, then change would be rapid. However, given the absence of any oil wells Margate can only work within the resources it has available, as one among several historically popular seaside resorts in Thanet.
While 'The Apprentice' may have failed to impress in its own particular branding exercise, given time and investment, I believe that with the current strategy, Margate can recover much of its former glory but a great deal of behind-the-scenes work needs to be completed before it can.