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From left, Stephen Bournes, Keith Brown, Alex Paul, Robert Gough, Richard Ellis, Barbara Greesley, Martin Dupee, Ian Russell, Tim Rowen-Robinson and Liz Cobbald on the Ipswich Waterfront during the Visit East Anglia tourism conference at DanceEast
Friday, September 28, 2012
The ‘cool’ factor could help develop the East Anglian ‘brand’ and promote Norfolk and Suffolk as a tourist destination, major players in the sector were told yesterday.
More than 200 entrepreneurs and professionals from the tourism sector gathered at Ipswich Waterfront’s DanceEast theatre to take part in Visit East Anglia’s Conference 2012 as the private sector-led organisation celebrated its first year.
A series of speakers, including Andy Wood, chief executive of Southwold brewers Adnams and chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said with its beaches, heritage and other assets, the region had the potential to market itself as a ‘cool’ place to go.
“We are talking about the brands of Suffolk and of Norfolk and they can be really cool and we really need to believe in ourselves around that,” he said.
“I really do believe we have got the potential to have one of the coolest brands, if not the coolest, in the UK.”
The Adnams brand itself has just scooped its own ‘cool’ accolade after it was officially named as a “Coolbrand” in an influential annual listing based on the views of consumers, style experts and personalities from the media, fashion and music industries.
The tourism sector could play “an enormous part” in helping the economy, added Dr Wood.
“It’s clear that the economic recovery is going to be private sector led - there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “Quite frankly you people here today represent one of the most important sectors, not only in Norfolk and Suffolk but also in the whole of the UK.”
Also among the speakers was Jonathan Denby, Greater Anglia’s Head of Corporate Affairs and chair of Community Rail Norfolk, said there was “some really good news” about rail and tourism in the region, with improvements at Beccles which would allow hourly train services from Ipswich to Lowestoft.
“The railways aren’t important of themselves. They are important for what they can do for the region and what we can do for the region over the next two years is I think quite significant,” he said.
In future, there would be less disruption to services at weekends for London services to the region, he said.
The company was keen to work “at every level” with businesses to promote the area, he added.
Claire Martinsen, founder of Breckland Orchard and its ‘posh pops’ and acting chair of Tastes of Anglia, told delegates about how social media continued to help her business punch above its weight.
There were myths around using social media and how complicated it was, but it was in fact easy and useful, she said.
“It has gained me significant customers,” she said.
A father and son who joined forces to set up their own business are hoping to push the boundaries as their company goes from strength to strength.