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Suffolk: Tourism industry hails record summer bookings

PUBLISHED: 11:23 25 June 2014

Families enjoy  the hot weather on Southwold Beach

Families enjoy the hot weather on Southwold Beach

Archant

Suffolk’s visitor economy is expected to enjoy a major boost this summer after a record number of holidaymakers made bookings in the county.

Lettings companies, Best of Suffolk and Suffolk Secrets, have both reported double-digit growth for 2014, with Aldeburgh and Southwold proving particularly popular for visitors.

While efforts to boost tourism in west Suffolk are paying off with Bury St Edmunds, Lavenham and Long Melford seeing double-figure increases during the past year in people booking hotels, holiday lets and visiting attractions.

Naomi Tarry, Best of Suffolk director, said the company had recruited more staff and installed new phone lines to manage the 25% increase in bookings made.

“I think Suffolk’s reputation has really grown over the past few years and in particular last year’s Benjamin Britten celebrations really helped put us on the map,” she said.

“There are an awful lot of really great positive stories about tourism coming out of Suffolk at the moment and the message is spreading by word of mouth.”

Suffolk Secrets’ general manager George Bradley said: “We’ve had a record year, with double-digit growth.

“In particular, Aldeburgh and Southwold have done fantastically well – there’s very little availability left there this summer.

“They’re both such picturesque and relaxing towns – I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the UK with such a holiday feel about it than the Suffolk coast,”

To the west of the county, Mr Bradley said there was growing demand for holiday lets in Bury St Edmunds, Long Melford and Lavenham, particularly for short breaks.

Tourism is estimated to bring almost £2billion into Suffolk’s economy, with businesses across the county expected to share in this summer’s record growth.

A number of factors are being credited for the welcome boost, including a county-wide marketing campaign, revamped websites, post-recession consumer confidence – and the better weather.

Melanie Lesser, chair of the Bury St Edmunds Tourism Group, said: “I think the reason why visitor numbers are up is because Bury is not just a standard town – it has so much to offer and such a lot of variety in a small area.”

Veronica Cowlin, co-ordinator of Lavenham tourist information centre, said the number of visitors passing through the office had gone up by about a third.

“It has been really good this year,” she said. “Lavenham is a great place for short breaks but we get a real mix of people through including overseas visitors, some who are looking for accommodation and others for attractions and events.

“We send them all over the county to Long Melford, Cavendish and Sudbury, so having a TIC in Lavenham benefits the whole area.”

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