A development officer has been appointed to encourage tourism businesses to take part in a new “visitor giving” scheme – Love the Broads – intended to fund improvement projects.

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Hannah Dryland, 38, of Sigismund Road, Norwich, will be spearheading the initiative, run by a new Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Charitable Trust and modelled on a scheme in the Lake District which has been successful in raising more than £2m over nearly two decades.

The project relies on businesses asking their customers for a purely voluntary donation on top of their bill in recognition of the damaging impact – from footprints to boat wash – that tourism has on the sensitive environment,

Hire boat companies might ask for an extra £1 on the price of a holiday while cafés might levy an extra five pence on a cup of tea.

Importantly, the donations have no impact on the tax paid by the businesses.

The trust, which receives the money, will decide which improvement schemes receive funding and ideas already in the melting pot include a sculpture trail at Strumpshaw Fen, signage for Broads cycling routes and a project to address the decline of the water vole population on the waterways.

Six businesses piloted the scheme last summer and the trust hopes to attract at least 20 more this season.

Ms Dryland, who has previously worked for Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Whitlingham Country Park, starts work on March 4.

She said: “I am looking forward to meeting as many businesses as possible and creating together a very dynamic and successful initiative that shows that businesses on the Broads really do care about the environment.”

She said businesses which took part in the EU-funded pilot, including Stalham hire boat firm Richardson’s, Dairy Barns in Hickling and Broadland Cycle Hire, had received “really good, positive feedback”.

The had found that customers were very willing to make a small additional payment to support projects to benefit the area.

She said: “I will also be looking to work with conservation organisations and encouraging them to put forward ideas for funded schemes.

“As well as identifying small-scale conservation and education projects, I would really like to look for a flagship scheme for funding.”

Ms Dryland, whose post is being funded by the Regional Development Programme for England, said projections estimated at least £14,000 could be raised this season and that would grow in successive years.

Any business that would like more information or wants to take part in the scheme this year should contact her through the trust by emailing info@broadstrust.org.uk

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