The leisure and tourism industry in Warwickshire could be on course for a bumper 2016, according to local businessman Major Richard Carney MBE.

The General Manager of IXL Events Ltd in Southam believes the sector will be boosted by increased footfall to towns, tourist attractions and shopping centres this year – helped in part by several major investments planned for the region.

Last month it was announced that work was set to start on Stratford’s £30 million Town Square development, which will create more than 70,000 sq ft of retail, restaurant and leisure space. Byron Burgers has already signed up the scheme along with a four-screen boutique picture house Everyman Cinema.

It has also been revealed that Leamington’s central ‘events space’, the Pump Room Gardens, will have a £1 million restoration to bring it back to the standards of its heyday following a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The West Midlands has also undergone a massive programme of improvements to its infrastructure – including a £600 million redevelopment of Birmingham’s New Street Station – which Major Carney believes will have a positive impact on Warwickshire’s leisure and tourism industry.

“This year there is so much planned for Warwickshire and the surrounding areas which is certain to have a positive impact on the leisure and tourism industry,” said Major Carney. “We are seeing some massive investments being made which will ensure that the sector continues to thrive and could even bring record numbers to our towns and attractions.

“In neighbouring Leamington, we are seeing continuous investment in the leisure industry, with more and more cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants opening – all of which help to increase footfall to the town. And over the summer they host some amazing events including the Peace Festival, Art in the Park and the popular Leamington Food Festival – which draws over 25,000 people from all over the UK.

“Also, this year is the ‘Year of the English Garden’ as well as Shakespeare’s 400th birthday and given the region’s assets we are very well placed to capitalise on the public’s interest in these celebrations.

“The region’s central location, its continued investment and a line-up of impressive events and attractions make it a fantastic location for visitors and this year looks set to be another bumper year for the leisure and tourism industry.”

Major Carney recently announced a huge investment of his own – with a £122 million development planned at the supreme destination venue in Warwickshire. The 12-year plan for the 600-acre site – which is home to the Dallas Burston Polo Club – includes a new Player’s Pavilion, 100 luxury lodges and a hotel.

“The investment at IXL Events Ltd comes during a time when the industry is doing extremely well,” he added. “We realised the need to grow our facilities and strengthen our offering by providing greater and more extensive facilities – including a hotel – to ensure that we remain competitive within the event’s industry.”

Stephanie Kerr, Executive Director of BID Leamington, said: “Like Major Carney, we are expecting 2016 to be an incredibly year for the leisure and tourism industry. Businesses in Leamington’s town centre are committed to offering a high quality visitor experience and have invested more than £2 million over the last five years in enhancing the retail and leisure offer.

“Alongside highly regarded favourites such as Queans, La Coppola and Restaurant 23, Leamington has recently welcomed a number of well-known names to the town including Yo Sushi, Wagamama, Carluccios and Nandos as well as some very unique and popular emerging brands such as Turtle Bay, Las Iguanas, Meatcure and Bills.

“And in the last year, many of the towns existing offer have invested in large refurbishments such as the Star & Garter, Café Rouge, Bistroit Pierre and Burbon Smokehouse.” are honoured to receive this recognition.”