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Photo gallery: Bid to make ‘greater north Norfolk’ the first choice for tourists

07:34 23 November 2012

Felbrigg Hall. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Felbrigg Hall. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012

A new organisation has been set up to promote the charms of “greater north Norfolk” - with the aim of making the area one of the leading places to visit for tourists.

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Visit North Norfolk Coast and Countryside (VNNC and C) will bring together businesses and attractions from Heacham in the west to Horsey in the east - and the towns and villages inland.

Those involved are heralding it as the “beginning of a revolution”, with tourism traders taking their destiny into their own hands and working together to maximise the potential of the area.

Tourism jobs make up between 17-19pc of all employment in north Norfolk.

But, despite visitor numbers holding up well in 2012, tourists were not so keen to spend their money because of the economic downturn, with spend thought to have dropped from £390m in 2011 to £343m.

VNNC and C is designed to eradicate any uncertainty, giving businesses the confidence to invest in and exploit what they have to offer.

The group is known as a destination marketing organisation, and is likely to be given a kick-start with cash from North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), before eventually becoming self-financing.

It will be chaired by Michael Timewell from Blue Sky Leisure, with Robert Simmons and Paul Searle as two of the directors.

Ian Doughty, chairman of North Norfolk Business Forum, said: “Last season was a very strong one. People were very positive and invested in marketing.

“So a lot of people came to north Norfolk. I suspect this time people will say it has not been so good, and they will draw their horns in a bit in terms of investment for next season.

“There’s a lack of confidence. The DMO is the beginning of a revolution in terms of tourism businesses taking their destiny into their own hands. It enables them to influence how tourism is managed and marketed.”

Tom Fitzpatrick, deputy leader of NNDC, said: “It gives people who want to grow the chance to meet with their peers and work together.

“It’s the most effective way to do it. The drive will come from the private sector - the people that are providing the services to the customers.”

Robin Smith, economic development manager at NNDC, said: “There are so many strengths here. We’ve got heritage, wildlife, nature, culture and the arts - along with the food offer.

“We want to close the hole in the leaky bucket, where investment goes out of the district.

“We are the most peripheral rural location in the east of England. We are 180-degree people, with the sea to our backs. We’ve had to take ownership of the solutions.

“It will be about raising the reputation of the area by focusing on its key strengths. It’s about everybody - caravan parks, B and Bs, hotels, attractions and much more.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said people “do not really recognise” the council boundaries, and it made sense to make the organisation’s area spread further.

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