Tourism survey reports rise in bookings and visitor numbers
12:29 15 May 2014
East Anglia’s £4.2bn tourism industry has seen a significant rise in confidence with a surge in bookings and rise in visitor numbers, according to a new report.
Positive data in the latest quarterly tourism business confidence monitors prepared for Visit Norfolk and Visit Suffolk comes despite rainfall records being broken at the start of the year.
Encouragingly, 49% of Norfolk tourism businesses reported a first quarter increase in visitor numbers compared to the same period last year - while in Suffolk the figure was even higher at 57%.
Looking ahead, 61% of Norfolk businesses and 60% of Suffolk businesses predict the volume of visitors/guests for the quarter ending June 30 to beat last year.
In both counties, more than half of tourism businesses - 59% in Norfolk and 52% in Suffolk - are more confident about their own prospects going into the second quarter than in 2013.
The survey also shows rising confidence in the regional and national tourism economy.
Businesses are reporting a significant year-on-year rise in bookings up to the end of June - 54% in Norfolk and 44% in Suffolk (conversely only 6% in both counties experienced a decline).
While optimism grows that 2014 will be a bumper season, tourism businesses still feel increased investment is needed in the region’s number one industry.
Significantly, in the month that the Norfolk and Norwich Festival is set to bring nearly 80,000 visitors to the region and generate a predicted £2.4m to the local economy, 48% of Norfolk tourism businesses - and 41% in Suffolk - want to see investment in more major events and festivals.
Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, said: “As we move into the critical summer season, this latest confidence monitor provides more encouraging news for the tourism sector.
“Investment is still very much the key though, whether that is activities such as Houghton Revisited, improving the offering as we’ve seen at attractions such as Pensthorpe and Dinosaur Adventure, or in infrastructure where we’ll soon benefit from the final dualling of the A11.
Visit Suffolk brand manager Amanda Bond said it was clear that “consumer confidence was slowly bouncing back”.
She said: “With Suffolk tourism businesses committed to upgrading their product, engaging more on social media platforms and offering a good all-round customer experience, augmented by Visit Suffolk’s latest shoulder season campaign, there are even more reasons to visit our wonderful county.”
Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner for Larking Gowen Chartered Accountants, who prepares the monitors, said: ”Confidence is clearly improving and businesses are also seeing improvements in visitor discretionary spend which will be welcomed by the tourism industry in our region.
“The next quarterly survey will take place in July covering the quarter to 30 June 2014 and it will be interesting to see how the positivity reflected in these results continues into the summer season.”
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