A host of cultural developments are set to turn Croydon from a naff' outer London backwater to a tourist hot spot.

Linda Dyos, the borough's cultural, film and tourism manager for Croydon Business, the organisation charged with raising the town's profile, believes developments planned for the coming years could see tourists flocking to the town.

She said plans in the pipeline include transforming Surrey Street into something reminiscent of Camden Market and Portobello Road with a new jazz club and creating a cultural quarter which would stretch from the Gateway site at East Croydon and encompass Fairfield Halls, the Warehouse Theatre, Croydon Clocktower, Surrey Street and the site of the grade two listed pumping station.

Transforming Fairfield Halls into a state-of-the-art entertainment venue and a proposed ice skating rink in Queen's Gardens are also cited as potential tourist destinations.

At the moment there is not a specific breakdown on the number of tourists visiting the borough but figures show that people visit Croydon to shop, to go to the theatre or concerts and to enjoy the pubs, clubs and restaurants, boosting the town's night-time economy.

Mrs Dyos said: "The image that Croydon has is still the main problem we have in attracting people to Croydon. We've got to change this image because it is just not true.

"Croydon is trading on an image that is now in the past. We want to put forward that Croydon is now a contemporary town."

Mrs Dyos made her comments after appearing before the London Assembly's tourism committee to raise the point that many tourism marketing campaigns for London ignored areas outside of the capital.

But she said Croydon had much to offer, with a wealth of cultural attractions, sports venues and historic buildings.

Croydon Council's cabinet member for culture and sport, Councillor Stuart Collins, was enthusiastic about the borough's future as a tourist destination.

He said: "I wouldn't say that Croydon's been ignored as a tourist destination because we do get tourists coming to Fairfield Halls and to East Croydon."

Coun Collins pointed to Addington Palace, and Croydon Clocktower's Lifetimes Museum, currently undergoing refurbishment, as two of the borough's tourist gems.

He added: "There's a lot of good reasons to come to Croydon, but in the future there are going to be even more."

Croydon has its own tourist information website www.visitcroydon.com.