Tourism bosses hoping for bumper year

Tourism bosses were today keeping their fingers crossed for another bumper year in Suffolk - with early signs indicating the “staycation” trend is set to continue.

SUFFOLK: Tourism bosses were today keeping their fingers crossed for another bumper year in Suffolk - with early signs indicating the “staycation” trend is set to continue.

Two thirds of Suffolk tourism businesses expect their businesses to do even better this year despite a bumper year in 2009, and 84 per cent of East of England tourism-related businesses believe their turnover will either improve or stay the same, according to survey results.

Tourism chiefs believe that figures due out later this year will show the region's tourism industry, previously worth around �5.2billion, went up to at least �5.46bn last year, and they predict this year will at least stay at that level.

A variety of factors helped fan interest in rediscovering the delights of resorts and attractions in Suffolk and other parts of the region last year, including good weather, the exchange rate and a growing interest in local products and services.

Center Parcs said yesterday that its booking figures for this year were up 18pc year-on-year, with almost 14,000 more booking for its short breaks for the coming year at its four holiday villages, which include a site at Elveden.

Alex Paul, tourism manager for Choose Suffolk, said their feedback indicated the staycation trend was more than a flash in the pan.

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“According to East of England Tourism's Business Confidence Monitor carried out in conjunction with Choose Suffolk in December, two-thirds of Suffolk-based respondents indicated that they expect business performance levels to increase in 2010,” he said.

“These findings echo the feedback from our own members within the Choose Suffolk Tourism Partnership who confirm that 2009 was a particularly good year and, rather than a positive blip, is part of an ongoing and growing trend for staycations.”

Keith Brown, chief executive of East of England Tourism, said early indications were that bookings were well ahead.

“We have got a lot of new investment going into the region and it's becoming a place people are very keen to discover,” he said.

Celia Hodson, chief executive for Choose Suffolk, said: “The word is clearly spreading about Suffolk as a quality destination.”

Will you be holidaying in Suffolk this year? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk