Bleak outlook for resort tourist trade
A DESERTED sea front, closed kiosks and empty amusements could spell a bleak future for Felixstowe's tourist trade which is being hit by appalling summer weather.
By JOANNE CONSTABLE
A DESERTED seafront, closed kiosks and empty amusements could spell a bleak future for Felixstowe's tourist trade which is being hit by appalling summer weather.
It is supposed to be a sunny July but the rainy and windy days and cold evenings have meant tourists are nowhere to be seen – leaving traders and attraction owners fed up and fearing the worst.
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They say unless the six-week school holiday provides a sunshine bonanza to bring out the crowds, it could be one of the worst years ever and leave some of them with serious problems for the future.
Stan Harris, owner of the Felixstowe seafront attractions, said this summer had been the worst since he started managing the attractions 20 years ago.
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Easter had been promising because the county had enjoyed an early burst of summer sun, but all hopes of a bumper summer season fell flat when the cold weather moved in.
Mr Harris was trying to be optimistic and hoped the weather would change before the summer season started when the children finished school.
But during the last week his crazy golf course, dinghy ride and other amusements have stayed out of action waiting for the tourists to arrive.
Mr Harris said he was suffering more than other businesses in the area because none of his attractions were covered and so were completely dependent on bright, sunny and warm weather.
He has also had to delay maintenance and repair work needed for his seafront attraction area to be in shape for his busiest season.
None of his five employees have been laid-off yet but their hours have been seriously reduced.
He said the situation was depressing as during one evening this week between 5.00 and 7.30 only one ice cream was sold.
"It's not even covering the electricity," he said.
Now employers have to pay the minimum wage each worker will be paid more than four pounds an hour and Mr Harris is feeling the pinch.
He said: "We could stay home all day but that would not help the situation, we are committed to try to provide a service – we have got to look after them the best we can. It is a shame for the people who do come down. Little kids get their hopes up and come down and it's like this."
Charles Manning from Manning's Amusements said the number of customers playing on his machines was "reasonable".
He was looking forward to the school holidays and hoped the weather would brighten up. His funfair has outdoor amusements for small children, waltzers and all sorts of fairground rides, but they are not fully operational until the busy season starts in the next few weeks.
Suresh Mohindra, owner of the Waverley Hotel, Bent Hill, said bookings were down 30 per cent.
Bookings had been effected by the September 11 atrocity and the weather had been so poor.