Bury becoming 'destination town'

TOURISM chiefs in west Suffolk are expecting record visitor numbers this year after research showed Bury St Edmunds had become a “destination town”.

Laurence Cawley

TOURISM chiefs in west Suffolk are expecting record visitor numbers this year after research showed Bury St Edmunds had become a “destination town”.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is currently in talks with hotel, cottage and bed and breakfast owners in villages and towns in the area in order to meet the accommodation needs of tourists expected during the summer.

The move comes in the wake of record numbers flocking to the town in the lead-up to Christmas and the results of research which revealed two-thirds of the 70,000 visitors to this year's three-day Christmas Fair had come from further than 25 miles away.


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Council tourism manager Sharon Fairweather said the council was “very surprised” so many had come to Bury from elsewhere. She said many of the visitors who filled in council questionnaires were planning to return in the summer after enjoying their winter foray into the town.

“All of our accommodation providers reported record business over the period. The feedback we got was that Bury is a beautiful town and that they loved the street markets.”

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She said the aim now was to share the town's expected visitor numbers with surrounding towns and villages, by encouraging short breaks in the wider area.

The council is discussing its tourism strategy with neighbouring Forest Heath District Council in a bid to “sell” west Suffolk to visitors and holidaymakers.

However, some have questioned whether a successful tourism year last year means a better or equal one this year.

At the three-star Abbey Hotel in Southgate Street, the owners benefited from people opting to stay in the UK last year.

But a spokeswoman for the hotel said: “We had more people last year on 'staycations'. It was very obvious that people were having short breaks and staying the UK, but whether people have still got the money to spend this year or not, who knows?

“Business people are always very surprised by how attractive Bury is. I think Bury is still very much a secret to the outside world.”

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