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East Anglia: Almost 60% of tourism businesses see rise in visitor numbers during first three months of 2014

PUBLISHED: 10:24 14 May 2014

Visitors making the most of the warm weather on Aldeburgh beach last month

Visitors making the most of the warm weather on Aldeburgh beach last month

East Anglia’s £4.2billion tourism industry has seen a significant rise in confidence amid a surge in bookings and growth in visitor numbers, according to a new report.

The positive data in the latest Quarterly Tourism Business Confidence Monitor prepared for Visit Suffolk and Visit Norfolk comes despite rainfall records being broken early in the year.

More than half of the tourism-related businesses surveyed in Suffolk (57%) reported a first quarter increase in visitor numbers compared with the same period last year, with the figure in Norfolk not far behind at 49%.

And, looking ahead, 60% of the businesses in Suffolk and 61% in Norfolk predicted that the volume of visitors/guests during the current quarter, to the end of June, will beat last year.

In both counties, more than half of tourism businesses 52% in Suffolk and 59% in Norfolk are more confident about their prospects going into the second quarter than in 2013.

Businesses are reporting a significant year-on-year rise in bookings up to the end of June, with 54% in Norfolk and 44% in Suffolk reporting an increase and only 6% in each county having seen a decline so far.

However, tourism businesses still feel that increased investment is needed, with 48% in Norfok and 41% in Suffolk wanting to see investment in more major events and festivals.

Visit Suffolk brand manager Amanda Bond said: “With Suffolk tourism businesses committed to upgrading their product, engaging more on social media platforms and offering a good all-round customer experience, augmented by Visit Suffolk’s latest shoulder season campaign, there are even more reasons to visit our wonderful county.”

Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner for Larking Gowen Chartered Accountants, who prepares the monitor, said: ”Confidence is clearly improving and businesses are also seeing improvements in visitor discretionary spend which will be welcomed by the tourism industry in our region.”

The findings cap a positive few weeks for tourism in Suffolk. Warmer weather brought crowds to the county’s resorts over Easter and it is hoped that events such as the Women’s Tour cycling and the news that the BBC’s Springwatch programme is to be filmed at Minsmere will also have a positive impact.

Business owners are now looking ahead to the coming weekend with hopes of a mini-heatwave, which could see temperatures rise to around 20C.

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