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Suffolk tourism industry ‘going strong’ - despite uncertainty over Brexit

PUBLISHED: 17:02 15 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:39 18 December 2017

Suffolk's coastline, including Southwold, attracts thousands of visitors every year. Picture: JANICE POULSON

Suffolk's coastline, including Southwold, attracts thousands of visitors every year. Picture: JANICE POULSON

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Optimism in Suffolk’s tourism industry remains buoyant despite economic uncertainties linked with Brexit negotiations, a report has found.

Constable Country, pictured here from East Bergholt, is another attraction for visitors. Picture: SU ANDERSONConstable Country, pictured here from East Bergholt, is another attraction for visitors. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Visit Suffolk’s Tourism Business Confidence Monitor, published this month, found 85% of the 111 businesses surveyed were either “very satisfied” (19%) or “quite satisfied” (66%) with their levels of trade so far this year.

Although this is below the levels for last year, when 39% were very satisfied, tourism leaders said this was in line with national trends, and Suffolk’s industry was still “going strong”.

Confidence for the Christmas and New Year period has even risen on last year’s figures and far exceeds the England average.

Some 88% of respondents said they were satisfied with their performance since the October half term, 41% reported an increase in visitors compared to the previous year, and 57% expected to grow this year.

The wool towns, such as Lavenham, are another visitor attraction. Picture: PHIL MORLEYThe wool towns, such as Lavenham, are another visitor attraction. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The “topical question” in this year’s survey was on the delays in Brexit negotiations and whether people thought it would affect their business. Almost two thirds (61%) said the delays would have no impact, 3% expected a positive impact, while 37% predicted a negative outcome.

Visit Suffolk’s brand manager Amanda Bond said: “It is encouraging to see that Suffolk’s tourism industry is going strong despite external factors such as the delay in Brexit negotiations.

“Overall performance has been positive with over half of all businesses rating their expectations ‘a little better’ or ‘much better’ than in 2016.

“However, even with these positive results, 2016 performance was slightly higher overall. This may be due to the flattening of the staycation market over the last year, with many visitors preferring multiple short breaks as opposed to the ultimate annual holiday.”

Over recent years, tourism in Suffolk has gone from strength to strength. It was worth an estimated £1.85bn in 2013, making it one of the county’s largest industries. In East Suffolk, tourism is said to account for 13% of all employment. East Suffolk’s tourism business plan for 2017-22 found visitors were attracted by the character, culture, festivals, music, art, food, drink, clean beaches and spectacular coastline.

Other popular attractions include Constable Country, Center Parcs and wool towns such as Lavenham and Long Melford.

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