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Can Norfolk benefit from national bid to increase foreign visitor numbers?

PUBLISHED: 18:18 10 October 2012

Tourism chiefs face the challenge of drawing the forecasted increase in foreign visitors to Norfolk.

Tourism chiefs face the challenge of drawing the forecasted increase in foreign visitors to Norfolk.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2010

Tourism chiefs have spoken of the challenges they face in drawing foreign visitors to Norfolk, as a national campaign was launched to attract more international tourists to Britain.

VisitBritain wants to bring in 40 million foreign tourists a year by 2020 - a 3pc growth each year.

Their report believes the American market could increase by 50pc by 2020, but sees the greatest growth coming from China and the Middle East.

Keith Brown from Visit East Anglia said around 18pc of tourists staying in the region’s accommodation at the moment came from abroad.

He said: “When visitors come from these emerging markets they look for the total English experience. We have to and will make sure their itineraries include Norfolk and Suffolk. What we have here is the real England.”

Peter Williamson, chairman of the Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association (NTAA) and owner of the Merrivale Model Village in Great Yarmouth, said it would be challenging to attract the foreign visitors.

“Once they come to this country it is very difficult to move international tourists away from the hotspots of Oxford, Windsor and London,” he said.

But Nick Bond from Visit Norwich said: “The Norwich area has incredibly strong creativity, heritage, culture, arts and music and we know for a fact, following press feedback, visitors find the city welcoming and friendly. The UNESCO City of Literature accolade which was awarded to Norwich this year is a huge achievement; and one example which will bring many benefits to the city of Norwich as well as international recognition.

“We continue to shout about all that the city offers, working in partnership with businesses and organisations to convey to the world that our city over delivers, that its historical importance is huge, its creativity off the scale and that investment in tourism is key to achieving maximum growth.”

VisitBritain’s campaign hopes to increase foreign visits by improving the country’s image abroad and making it easier to visit.

It wants to build on the exposure the UK had from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodrigues said: “This summer has shown what the country can do when we are united in a common cause.

“This country showed passion, professionalism, drive and energy to stage the best-ever Olympic and Paralympic Games. The test now is whether we can maintain this to create wealth and jobs through a major tourism drive.”

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