Sunny outlook for Norfolk tourism businesses

PUBLISHED: 15:02 11 July 2014 | UPDATED: 15:17 18 July 2014

Business booming: The Hoste in Burnham Market. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Business booming: The Hoste in Burnham Market. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

Norfolk’s £2.7bn tourism industry is on the threshhold of a bumper summer - realising the predictions of an influential quarterly survey.

Hotel and holiday cottage trade both show a significant year-on-year increase while the Broads hire boat sector reports bookings as much as 19pc up on last year.

The bright picture confirms data from the most recent tourism business confidence monitor, prepared by Larking Gowen Accountants, which revealed 61pc of businesses in the county were predicting the volume of visitors/guests for the quarter ending June 30 to beat last year.

The positive outlook also reflects a national survey which forecast a record-breaking year for hotels across the UK.

The report by PwC predicted a 0.9pc rise in occupancy for hotels outside London this year with ongoing year-on-year rises; it also predicts the average daily rate for regional hotels rising by 2pc in 2014 and 4pc next year.

Brendan Hopkins, owner of the The Hoste, in Burnham Market, said on top of an already high occupancy rate, July’s bookings were still significantly - between 5 and 10pc - up on last year.

He said: “August bookings are looking strong and at a Visit North Norfolk meeting a couple of weeks ago the feeling among the 70 businesses in the room was very positive.”

Stephen Bournes, owner of The Globe Inn, in Wells, was equally buoyant, reporting year-on-year increases in both occupancy and restaurant trade.

He said growing belief in the economy combined with really good weather were having a significant impact.

“Wells is buoyant. People are out walking and cycling. With the weather there is less need to go abroad and battle the traffic to get to the airport,” he said.

Simon Barclay, manager at Kett Country Cottages, which markets 195 properties across Norfolk, said: “Our occupancy for June was 12pc up on last year.

“There is a continuing trend of people booking later but trade through August is looking good and we are already seeing very positive bookings for 2015.”

Stalham-based Richardsons, the biggest hire boat operator on the Broads, is reporting a dramatic bounce back after two lean years.

Director Clive Richardson said: “Our bookings are 19pc up on the same time last year which is very good for us.”

He highlighted the positive impact of investment and said customers were already rushing to book their latest £180,000 Broadway cruiser, a striking four to six-berth single-level design with such features as electric canopies, an electric winch for the mudweight and solar panels.

Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, said: “The cottage rental and self-catering agencies are all reporting good booking levels for the months to come.

“The trend across the sector has been for visitors to book later, waiting to see what the weather will do, but as Norfolk is the combined sunniest-driest county in the UK, our advice would be to book as soon as possible to ensure they get the accommodation they want.”

Blob. Data is currently being collected for the next tourism business survey, the results of which will be published next month.

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