Video: Tourism boss says it’s time to celebrate our region - though he needs to learn Norwich is a city not a town

PUBLISHED: 12:26 09 April 2014 | UPDATED: 15:38 09 April 2014

James Berresford, Visit England chief executive, during his visit to Norwich Castle. Picture: Denise Bradley

James Berresford, Visit England chief executive, during his visit to Norwich Castle. Picture: Denise Bradley


Let’s show the world what is special and unique about Norfolk and Suffolk – that was the call from VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford during his visit to Norwich Castle.

Norwich - a place of character but definitely not a town

VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford highlighted the great things on offer in our counties and city of Norwich, but said everyone needs to work together to ensure more people are aware of what unique delights they can discover on a visit.

Perhaps illustrating how Norwich is not as well-known as some cities, the tourism chief made a faux pas in referring to Norwich a couple of times as a town, including saying it was a “town of character”.

We wholeheartedly agree Norwich is a place of character but we are also keen it is given its correct city status – so here are some handy reminders:

Norwich, a cathedral city, boasts not one but two cathedrals.

Welcome to Norwich – A Fine City is on the signs that greet visitors.

The history books chart hundreds of years of Norwich’s prominence as a city, including a long spell as England’s second city.

Norwich City Football Club has championed the city’s status on the national and European stage for 100 years.

In response, Mr Berresford said: “My sincerest apologies for the slip of tongue - Norwich is of course a wonderful city including being England’s first ever UNESCO City of Literature and one that I love to visit.”

Mr Berresford was a guest of the New Anglia Cultural Board yesterday to discuss how culture and tourism can work together. He said he felt both counties had “wonderful potential” and that partnership working was the way forward.

“There’s a stronger working relationship between the cultural sector and the tourism sector that is emerging and I think things like that, partnerships that, together, direct their resources into the marketing and celebration of what is special and unique about this part of the world is the way to do it, but it is a very, very competitive world. Every country in the world is trying to entice us Brits overseas, every other region in this country is trying to get people to come to their parts of the country, so it’s really identifying what’s unique and special and selling it.”

He said Norwich had great character with great attractions, pubs, restaurants, and accommodation.

He said he was a big believer in festivals and events such as the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and the GoGoGorillas! art trail that encouraged people to visit at different times of the year.

And he applauded the city’s success in achieving Unesco City of Literature status.

In the wider county the Broads, the north Norfolk coast and the beautiful countryside are among the highlights to have caught his eye.

“I had a wonderful long weekend on the Norfolk Broads a while back... what I was so impressed about on my break on the Broads was that all the boat owners, all the providers, had absolutely got customer care down to a fine art.

“It struck me that Norfolk as a whole has really woken up to the value of tourism.”

But he said it was important to improve road and rail links. “People do comment on the fact that it is not the easiest place to get to and perhaps not the easiest place they see to get around, and that is an issue,” he said.

Across the border in Suffolk, Mr Berresford praised the Latitude Festival and named Sutton Hoo and the coastline as being among the highlights. He added that the Benjamin Britten centenary celebration at Aldeburgh was a great example of a place celebrating its uniqueness and giving an extra reason to visit.

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