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Suffolk's tourist trade booming as economy hits £2bn mark

PUBLISHED: 07:30 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:35 08 August 2018

Thousands of people flocked to Lowestoft beach on Monday to soak up the sun Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Thousands of people flocked to Lowestoft beach on Monday to soak up the sun Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Suffolk’s tourism trade has seen its biggest boom for a decade – with the visitor economy reaching the £2 billion mark for the first time.

Bury St Edmunds. Picture: GREGG BROWNBury St Edmunds. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Interim figures released by Visit Suffolk show that tourism grew by a least 5% in 2017, more than double the year before.

Overnight visits and lengths of stay for tourists were also up by more than 4% with the number of jobs in the county’s tourism sector rising by 6% to 42,428.

This means 13.6% of all employment in Suffolk is in the tourism sector.

Councillor Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s leader, said the county had developed a “winning formula” for tourism.

People enjoying the hot weather in Aldeburgh. 
William Hill and Elisabeth Hill enjoy the sunshine Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPeople enjoying the hot weather in Aldeburgh. William Hill and Elisabeth Hill enjoy the sunshine Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He said: “This is great news for tourism in Suffolk and is proof a collaborative approach across the county brings substantial dividends.

“We are now seeing a real boom for tourism for Suffolk as increasingly more people discover our beautiful county through the promotional work of Visit Suffolk.

“Clearly, we now have a winning formula here that works for everybody.”

Amanda Bond, Visit Suffolk’s brand manager, said: “These are fantastic figures for Suffolk, signalling five years of significant improvement and promotion by marketing the county with an over-arching brand that benefits all destinations within Suffolk.

Lazy days: Warm early morning sunshine for weekend visitors to Aldeburgh beach looking towards the Scallop ond ThorpenessLazy days: Warm early morning sunshine for weekend visitors to Aldeburgh beach looking towards the Scallop ond Thorpeness

“This would not have been achieved without the continued backing for the county-wide offer from all the district authorities, Suffolk County Council, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and the Local Destination Marketing/Management Organisations (DMOs).”

Last month, Visit Suffolk’s quarterly tourism confidence monitor showed that 72% of businesses are positive about the immediate future and 81% are either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘quite satisfied’ with performance so far this year.

Pete Waters, Visit East Anglia’s executive director, said as tourism is not a statutory obligation for the public sector he is grateful for the financial support from local authorities and the New Anglia LEP.

He added: “However, they are under financial pressure and we need the private sector to work more closely with Visit Suffolk to ensure its long-term future and the continuation of the excellent marketing activity that has contributed to these new figures.”

Lazy days: Warm early morning sunshine for weekend visitors to Aldeburgh beach looking towards the Scallop ond ThorpenessLazy days: Warm early morning sunshine for weekend visitors to Aldeburgh beach looking towards the Scallop ond Thorpeness

Figures show visitors now spend more money on each trip to the county than ever before, with the value of the day market up more than 7%.

Chris Starkie, New Anglia LEP chief executive, said this fits with its strategy to convert day trippers into stay visitors

and to overcome the view of tourism as seasonal, low skilled and low paid.

He said: “If we can increase the year-round value and encourage more spend per visit, it will give employers, particularly in hospitality, the confidence to address some of those issues.”

Andy Wood, chief executive at Adnams, said: “There is a considerable amount of investment going into tourism and hospitality at the moment, and to maintain confidence and progress it’s important all stakeholders continue to work together.”

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