Tourism businesses across Norfolk are being urged to pull together and help celebrate the best the industry can offer.

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More than 200 representatives from tourism business across Norfolk attended the event at the John Innes Centre in Norwich to learn about this year’s EDP/Larking Gowen tourism business survey findings.

Now in its seventh year, the survey also covered Suffolk for the first time to give a detailed profile of the issues facing the sector.

The industry is Norfolk’s largest employer and generates about £2.6bn for the local economy, but faced challenges last year with the wet weather and also the Olympics, which kept visitors away from the county.

But there were signs it had outperformed other parts of the country in the last quarter of the year in terms of the length of stays.The session also heard from Pete Waters, brand manager of Visit Norfolk, about how the newly-formed organisation can help the county’s tourism businesses. He said Visit Norfolk, which succeeded Norfolk Tourism as the umbrella body for the county’s tourism sector, would work with local tourism groups (DMOs) and support them through a dedicated website and campaigning, but it would need the support and buy-in of businesses, too.

United under a catch-all Big Sky motif, the aim would then be for individual areas such as Great Yarmouth and Norfolk to create their own profiles and dedicated campaign messages. Potential contributors to the website include Stephen Fry, writing about Swaffham, and north Norfolk chef Galton Blackiston.

“We have got 200 people here – the crème de la crème of our tourism businesses,” Mr Waters said.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to work together. It all comes down to your hard work and we are there to work with you for the benefit of your business. We are an umbrella body, but an umbrella is hopeless if it has got holes in it. If we all work collaboratively and collectively, it will be to the benefit of everybody in Norfolk. We are not out to steal anybody’s lunch.”

See EDP business for an analysis of this year’s Tourism Business Survey.

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