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Bright future for tourism in Cromer as seaside town basks in new found publicity

PUBLISHED: 08:38 20 November 2017

A kite flyer enjoying the sunshine at Cromer beach.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A kite flyer enjoying the sunshine at Cromer beach. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

When a group of Travellers descended on Cromer and unleashed a crime wave, the national media attention threatened to harm its reputation as a friendly tourist town.

Waves crashing on Cromer beach on a fresh autumn day Waves crashing on Cromer beach on a fresh autumn day

But the cliche “any publicity is good publicity” turned out to apply to the situation.

For, according to leading figures in the town, August’s weekend of disorder has raised Cromer’s profile and given it a boost.

Gary Dickenson, the president of the Chamber of Trade in Cromer, pictured inset, said he had not come across any tourism businesses that had been negatively affected following the disorder, which brought the town to a standstill on August 18 and 19.

“It does not seem to have had any effect at all and it was business as normal almost straight away,” he said.

Cromer gets back on its feet after the problems caused by travellers at the weekend. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Cromer gets back on its feet after the problems caused by travellers at the weekend. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

“It was a one-off incident and if anything it has raised the profile of Cromer and we need to work on the back of that.”

He said despite the weekend’s events, it had been a “very good year” for business in Cromer.

“The chamber and town council are working together on a new marketing campaign for 2018, but that is not directly related to what happened but was also something we thought we needed to do.”

Suffield Park ward councillor for North Norfolk District Council Nigel Pearce said the events that unfolded in August had been “disastrous” but felt the town had recovered quickly and successfully.

Cromer town centre. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Cromer town centre. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

A resident of the area since 1997, Mr Pearce said: “Visitor numbers are where they should be and I think we’re looking towards an even better year next year.

“The story made national and international headlines and made a lot of people look for Cromer so it definitely raised the profile of the town.

“Taking the age-old adage from the music industry that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, I think Cromer has done very well following that weekend.”

Benjie Cabbell Manners, owner of Amazona Zoo in Cromer, said they had plans to refurbish the zoo in 2018 and it would take a lot more than a single disruptive weekend to dent the town’s image.

Cromer gets back on its feet after the problems caused by travellers at the weekend. Gary Dickenson. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Cromer gets back on its feet after the problems caused by travellers at the weekend. Gary Dickenson. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

He said: “Cromer is a united Norfolk town and it will be around long after troublemakers try to disturb this wonderful seaside destination. We have more than ever to offer visitors to showcase this.”

Amazona Zoo is home to over 200 animals from tropical South America, including jaguars, monkeys, peccaries, otters, owls, macaws and parrots.

“Cromer will always be a bucket and spade holiday destination and the local community has worked hard together to ensure its reputation will always remain family-friendly,” said Mr Cabbell Manners.

Tom Ellis, a director of Norfolk Country Cottages, said Cromer continued to be one of the most popular and sought-after destinations for holidaymakers to Norfolk.

Suffield Park Ward Cllr Nigel Pearce. Picture: Ian Burt Suffield Park Ward Cllr Nigel Pearce. Picture: Ian Burt

He said the town was attracting significant investment in holiday properties despite the incident in August.

Mr Ellis said: “Year on year we are seeing positive growth in terms of visitor numbers and bookings.

“For example, we have seen an increase of 72pc in bookings this year compared to last year and 9pc of searches on our website are for Cromer.”

He said the town was attracting “wonderful attention” from national press and bloggers who rated it for its Victorian nostalgia and relaxed coastal vibe.

Benji Cabbell-Manners of Amazona Zoo, Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Benji Cabbell-Manners of Amazona Zoo, Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The Cromer Pier Show was also well regarded and the town’s relatively new Walkers are Welcome status along with its location on the National Coastal Path made it popular with different markets.

Walkers are Welcome is a non-profit making Community Interest Company.

Launched in 2007, it is a nationwide initiative that looks to encourage towns and villages to be welcoming to walkers and there are now over 100 locations across the UK that have joined the scheme.

Mr Ellis said the town was also benefiting from recent investment in tourism products.

Tom Ellis, 33, director of Norfolk Country Cottages in Holt.

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE Tom Ellis, 33, director of Norfolk Country Cottages in Holt. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

“We have witnessed an increase in people investing in holiday properties in Cromer and also in the standard of accommodation on offer. This is wonderful for visitors as it gives them a greater choice of appealing and desirable places to stay, in a place that has something for everyone from families looking for a summer break to walkers wishing for an active winter escape.”

• See www.enjoycromermore.co.uk and join the Enjoy Cromer More Facebook group to see how you can get involved.

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