Early tourism business survey findings show rise in confidence
PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 January 2014 | UPDATED: 18:32 29 January 2014
Early findings from the Larking Gowen Tourism Business Survey point to a marked rise in confidence among operators in East Anglia’s £4.2bn industry.
Survey respondents reveal that the volume of tourism business during the autumn months far exceeded their expectations and they are far more optimistic about the outlook for the national economy.
However, with improvements to road and rail infrastructure seen as critical to advancing East Anglia tourism, the preliminary survey findings significantly reveal that more than half of tourism operators believe no political party is supportive of their industry.
Businesses across Norfolk and Suffolk have been filling in the eighth annual survey ahead of the February 2 deadline for completion.
The survey - seen as a powerful tool for influencing government decision makers - provides a wealth of information which also allows tourism operators to benchmark themselves against each other.
Calling for a final push on entries, Larking Gowen tourism and leisure partner Chris Scargill said: “More than 400 businesses took part last time and our aim is to beat that number to increase the survey’s value even more.”
Mr Scargill said the question relating to visitor/guest numbers in the final quarter of 2013 showed the feelgood factor was gathering strength.
He said: “In September 2013, our quarterly business confidence monitor (BCM) revealed only 43pc of businesses were expecting trade for the final quarter to be a similar level to the previous year.
“In fact, only 18pc of businesses saw visitor numbers remain at 2012 levels and 60pc saw an increase in guest/visitor numbers.”
The question relating to confidence in the national economy had also produced positive early findings with only 11pc of tourism business leaders remaining pessimistic about the outlook, compared to a figure of 17pc flagged up in last September’s BCM.
Mr Scargill said: “The fairly mild autumn has seen people out and about and with growing confidence in the market our early survey findings are showing that the tourism sector - as well as the retail economy - is benefiting.
“It is still going to be difficult but we are moving forward. Consumers are more fickle and fussy and have higher expectations of quality, but where they are offered that there is an improvement in the market.”
The question relating to political support for tourism has so far shown that 58pc of business leaders believe no party is supportive of tourism (compared to 66pc last year).
However, the Conservatives still appear to be the party which businesses feel is most supportive with 33pc (up from 23pc) of business leaders expressing this opinion.
Mr Scargill said: “Interestingly, one participant has suggested ‘they will only become interested as the election draws nearer’.”
To fill in the survey, which is supported by Visit Norfolk and Visit Suffolk and promoted by Archant, businesses are invited to visit www.tourismsurveys.co.uk