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Half of Suffolk’s tourism businesses report rise in visitor numbers, survey reveals

The beautiful Southwold Pier is popular with tourists young and old. Picture: VISITSUFFOLK.COM

The beautiful Southwold Pier is popular with tourists young and old. Picture: VISITSUFFOLK.COM

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Half of Suffolk’s tourism businesses have reported an increase in visitor numbers in 2018 compared to the year before, a survey has revealed.

The waterfront in Ipswich on a sunny day Picture: ADAM HOWLETTThe waterfront in Ipswich on a sunny day Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Visit Suffolk commissioned a survey in December to provide an insight on how the county’s tourist trade is faring, gathering the views of 108 businesses across Suffolk.

The ‘Tourism Business Confidence Monitor’ revealed that 81% of businesses were satisfied with their performance since the October half term with 57% reporting a positive performance over the New Year.

Almost two in five (38%) said were ‘very satisfied’ with their recent performance, compared to 33% the previous year, although the proportion of businesses who were ‘quite satisfied’ had gone down.

In terms of visitor numbers, 50% reported an increase with a further 27% saying they attracted the same volume of visitors compared to the year before.

Thousands of tourists flock to Aldeburgh every year Picture: RACHEL EDGEThousands of tourists flock to Aldeburgh every year Picture: RACHEL EDGE

The results are better than they were in 2017 and above the national average.

However, business over the Christmas and New Year period was slightly below the levels achieved in 2017, with 57% of businesses reporting ‘good’ or ‘very good’ booking levels compared to 61% the year before.

Asked what was having the largest negative impact on business, more than half (51%) said it was due to factors outside the county - such as the slow economy.

Fewer visitors to the area and staff changes came in second and third with 27% and 9% respectively.

Repeat business, customer reviews and word of mouth were the top positive factors.

This year’s topical question was focussed on the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

The survey, which was carried out by Destination Research on behalf of Visit Suffolk, asked the same question as last year - “Do you think delays in the Brexit negotiations will affect your business in the future?”

The results showed an increase in the belief among businesses that there will be a negative impact - up from 37% a year ago to 45% this year.

Those who believe it will have a positive impact, a minority, have also risen from 3% a year ago to 5% today. However, 59% say it is too early to say what the impact the EU referendum will have on their business.

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