A NEW “major tourist attraction” could be coming to rural Somerset as part of an effort to increase visitors to the area.

Somerset West and Taunton Council has made it a priority to bring such an attraction to the former West Somerset area within the next decade.

The council believes such an attraction would “reduce dependency locally upon the current tourism offer” while ensuring more people from outside Somerset will come to the area.

It also hopes such an attraction will help to deliver improvements to the existing road and rail network – as well as a possible hovercraft link to Wales and Ireland.

Details of this proposal form part of a new economic development strategy, which came before the council’s executive committee for approval on Tuesday evening (January 28).

Mark Wathen, the council’s lead specialist in economy and prosperity, said in his written report: “We want to investigate the potential of attracting a major tourist attraction to west Somerset to increase tourist numbers and the time spent by visitors to Somerset West and Taunton.

“This will have possible links to a college for tourism skills, which would also justify greater for improvements to new and existing transport infrastructure (including road, rail and sea).”

The council has not released any details about what type of attraction it hopes to bring to the area, nor any specific location in which it hopes such a business will be based.

In the economic development strategy – put together with consultancy firm Deyton Bell – the authority hopes such an “anchor attraction” will result in a “raised profile” for existing businesses and the tourism industry.

A spokesman said: “[We could] develop cross-channel opportunities to Wales and Ireland.

“Increased tourist numbers [could be] linked to a specific offer, such as the Exmoor National Park.

“A feasibility study and partnership working are needed to consider such ferry or hovercraft linkages.”

What new tourist attraction would you like to see in this part of Somerset? Email your ideas to newsdesk@countygazette.co.uk.