‘Norfolk’s tourism businesses must unite to harness the A11’s economic potential’

Andrew Hird Chairman of Visit Norfolk (left), Vanessa Scott from Strattons Hotel (front), Jude Leith, Tourism Development Manager at Northumberland Tourism, and Pete Waters Brand Manager at Visit Norfolk (front right). Pic: Keiron Tovell Andrew Hird Chairman of Visit Norfolk (left), Vanessa Scott from Strattons Hotel (front), Jude Leith, Tourism Development Manager at Northumberland Tourism, and Pete Waters Brand Manager at Visit Norfolk (front right). Pic: Keiron Tovell

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
3:38 PM

Norfolk’s tourism businesses need to speak with a united voice if they are to receive a significant economic boost from the dualling of the A11.

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That was the view of Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, as he urged firms to mirror Cornwall by sending out a clear message that vital road improvements made the region “open to tourism”.

The clarion call came today as businesses were encouraged to share their ideas about how to boost the region’s profile as part of Visit Norfolk’s Spring Conference.

During the event at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, Mr Waters said the region’s tourism economy was strengthening but more needed to be done to be on par with Cornwall, where holidaymakers stayed an average of eight nights compared to four nights in Norfolk.

Mr Waters said that Visit Norfolk planned to invest heavily in research to sharpen the focus of its campaigns and gain a better understanding of the holidaymakers travelling to the region.

“There are two things that helped change the fortunes of Cornwall: The introduction of the world-class attraction the Eden Project and the dualling of the A30,” he said.

“This road infrastructure project made a huge difference to the perception of the area. It showed that Cornwall was open to tourism.

“We have a similar opportunity when the A11 dualling is completed. We need to promote that Norfolk is open to tourism as well. We need to communicate that there will be no more Friday tailbacks when holidaymakers travel down, or Monday tailbacks when they are getting back out. Perhaps we need to push for more brown signs to be installed up and down the A11 that highlight our magnificent castles, stately homes and nature reserves.

“It’s a great opportunity for us. But businesses need to be cohesive and collaborated in their efforts to make the most of it.”

The presentation was followed by a series of speeches by tourism leaders including Jude Leitch, general manager of Northumberland Tourism, and Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal.

Larking Gowen’s Tourism Business Survey – published today – found that nearly six out of 10 holiday-related businesses are planning to put up wages and take on extra staff amid rising turnovers and increased profits.

Mr Waters added: “At the moment we don’t know exactly who is coming here, and who the people are that don’t come here. We are raising awareness, but we need to be more targeted with campaigning and promotion. Fresh research will allow us to do that.

“We are tendering for a contract at the moment and we hope to have that research completed by the summer.”

• To find out more about the Larking Gowen Tourism Business Survey view the photo gallery above.

• Do you expect an economic boost from the dualling of the A11? Contact business writer Ben Woods on 01603 772426 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk.

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