One of the region’s leading tourism figures has made a rallying call for businesses to take part in this year’s Larking Gowen Tourism Business Survey.

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Simon Altham, managing director of Lowestoft-based holidays firm Hoseasons, urged tourism operators across Norfolk and Suffolk to fill in the online survey before the February 2 closing date.

He made his appeal as Hoseasons, one of the UK’s largest self-catering holiday businesses, released bumper early year booking figures that confirmed growing evidence this could be a fabulous staycation summer for East Anglia tourism.

The EDP Top 100 company has seen bookings across its boating portfolio up 26pc compared to the same period in 2013.

And the Broads tops the list of most popular boating destinations with boatyards there up more than 40pc on last year.

The positive start to the year is reflected across the business with lodge and park holidays seeing strong demand, and sales with independent travel agents performing well.

Mr Altham said the importance of investment and good marketing - both themes gauged by the survey - was underlined by the Broads experience.

He said: “It is no coincidence that new boats are booking very well and that is encouraging for companies like Richardson’s who have been making significant investment in their fleet.”

Hoseasons had invested in strong marketing campaigns promoting the destination and launched Starboard – a new luxury boating experience.

Urging businesses to sign up to the survey, Mr Altham said it provided a wealth of information which allowed operators in the region’s number one industry to benchmark themselves against others.

He said: “Everyone wants a barometer of how well they are doing.

“And business confidence breeds more confidence and a sense that things are getting better.”

On the Broads, the brighter picture included improvements to infrastructure and pubs and the Broads Authority working really hard to improve tourism.

Mr Altham said positive booking figures across the sector also supported the view that last summer’s glorious weather had “left a sheen on the tourism industry right across the UK”.

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

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