DOZENS of firms are likely to compete for a contract worth up to £450,000 to promote Southampton’s flagship Titanic-themed museum.
City leisure chiefs says 45 firms, many local, have expressed an interest in the £90,000-a-year contract to market the £15m Sea City attraction, which is due to open in April next year.
It comes after the last private firm bidding to run the Civic Centre museum pulled out of advanced negotiations, leaving the council with no choice to but manage it themselves for at least a year.
Bidders were worried the council’s estimates of visitor numbers were too risky. It expects more than 150,000.
Now a marketing agency will be given the job of selling the attraction to the public and generating interesting in hiring part of the museum for events.
The contract, for an initial 12 months, with options to extend for three more years, will include developing a brand awareness campaign, a website, and signage.
The Sea City Museum is being funded by a £4.9m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, £5m to come from the sale of unspecified council “assets” and a further £5m from “fundraising”. The council has admitted it is having to borrow money upfront until the cash comes in.
Council leader Royston Smith said: “Sea City will appeal as a national and international visitor destination so it is absolutely vital that it is branded and marketed as such.
“A branding and marketing agency is needed in order to give Sea City the high profile launch needed and high visitor numbers.
“A thriving Sea City will be a major boost to the city economy, creating new jobs and new investment.
“A modest outlay on marketing the attraction in the right way will ultimately reap massive benefits for the city.
“The £90,000 funding has been allocated as part of Sea City’s overall budget, to which the Heritage Lottery Fund granted £4.9 million.
“The council is seeking excellent value for money from this contract.”
Kier Southern started work last October to transformthe Grade II listed former magistrates’ court building alongside the Civic Centre into the new Sea City attraction, adding a controversial new wing to the 1930s building.
The council said it is still on schedule to open in time for next April’s centenary of the Titanic disaster, in which 549 Sotonians lost their lives.