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Call on Norfolk MPs to fight for tourism

PUBLISHED: 08:00 02 August 2014

Local MPs meet tourism leaders at the Theatre Royal in Norwich to hear the industry's concerns Photo: Bill Smith

Local MPs meet tourism leaders at the Theatre Royal in Norwich to hear the industry's concerns Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

MPs can play a vital role in the further development of Norfolk’s £2.8bn tourism industry by leading the campaign for road and rail improvements.

That was the key message that came out of a meeting yesterday between tourism leaders and four of the county’s MPs - Norman Lamb, Chloe Smith, Simon Wright and Keith Simpson - at the Theatre Royal in Norwich.

The meeting was called in the wake of this year’s Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Business Survey (TBS), compiled by Larking Gowen, Chartered Accountants, which revealed that 60pc of tourism businesses felt no political party was supportive of the sector.

North Norfolk MP Mr Lamb said access to Norfolk was “critically important” for tourism growth.

While the coalition had delivered A11 dualling, other road improvements and better rail links still needed to be looked at.

He said MPs could play their part alongside “brilliant sector led initiatives” such as Visit Norfolk which had emerged to fill the gap after the loss of public sector funding.

Norwich MP Miss Smith said the TBS had highlighted some mixed messaged; while a number of people wanted more government support to the tourism industry, others were demanding tax cuts.

She said: “The completion of A11 dualling will be really important for tourism from the autumn onwards but it is absolutely vital that we work together on improving other elements of the transport network, the rail campaign which I lead, the A47 and the NDR.

“People who come to Norfolk for tourism can play a really important role themselves by joining the campaign for better transport here.”

Another crucial issue on which MPs were briefed is the skills shortage in certain tourism-related jobs.

Miss Smith said: “As the leader of Norwich for Jobs I would encourage young people to take up exciting roles in tourism.

“We have been told there are roles in IT and marketing available now and tourism businesses are recruiting for them.”

Richard Ellis, chairman of Visit East Anglia, said it was important that Norfolk’s MPs worked closely together on tourism issues, “hunting as a pack” for the benefit of the county.

Visit Norfolk brand manager Pete Waters said it was vital MPs recognised the full importance of tourism to the county’s economy, supporting 54,000 jobs.

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