Norfolk disappointed after Trafalgar Day bank holiday plan abandoned
PUBLISHED: 16:20 07 May 2012 | UPDATED: 16:27 07 May 2012
Hopes of the government setting up a new October bank holiday to celebrate Norfolk-born Lord Nelson’s famous victory at the Battle of Trafalgar appear to have been dashed after ministers said they would not explore the idea further.
When the coalition came to power in 2010, they published a tourism strategy to boost the UK industry which suggested potentially moving the May Day bank holiday to October 21; establishing a Trafalgar Day which would see people given time off around the country.
The idea behind the potential move was that the economic boost the tourism industry gets from bank holidays would be more evenly spread throughout the year, as there are already other national holidays around the spring.
The strategy document stated: “This would lengthen the summer tourism season and create new national holidays for our domestic tourism industry to celebrate.”
Meanwhile tourism chiefs in Norfolk believed that a Trafalgar Day in October would have had particular benefits, with visitors potentially flocking to see Nelson’s home county along with the port where he landed after the Battle of the Nile in 1798, Great Yarmouth.
But tourism minster John Penrose announced on his blog that having carried out initial consultations with industry figures, his department had found little desire for any change and as a result the government would not bother carrying out a full and formal consultation on any proposals.
A spokesman from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport told the Eastern Daily Press: “Following the responses we had to our pre-consultation on whether to move the May Day bank holiday, the Department has recognised the views of the majority who wish to keep the status quo. Therefore there will be no further consultation.”
Even if the consultation had gone ahead there would have been no guarantee it would have resulted in any change, and if it had it would not have been certain that the current May bank holiday would be replaced with Trafalgar Day; there were also calls for St George’s Day to be the new holiday.
Tourism chiefs in Norfolk said that while a Trafalgar Day would have been a welcome addition to the UK’s national holidays, they would have preferred it to have been a completely new event rather than coming at the cost of the existing May bank holiday.
Lydia Smith, director of Norfolk Tourism said: “A good Easter sets the tone for the year ahead and the May Day bank holiday and this year, the Diamond Jubilee weekend, are both key times for short breaks and day trips in the build up to the main summer season.
“Rather than move the May Day holiday to October, tourism in Norfolk would benefit more from an additional holiday around Trafalgar Day in October, giving us promotional opportunities with our Nelson links across the county, especially in north Norfolk and Great Yarmouth.”
A study from East of England Tourism has shown that the industry is worth £2.6bn annually to Norfolk’s economy, creating over 49,000 jobs which account for 14pc of employment in the county.
Peter Williamson, Chairman Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association and owner of Merrivale Model Village Great Yarmouth said: “We would welcome a bank holiday in October, but not at the expense of May Day.”
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: “Having a Trafalgar Day would be a boost for tourism. To be honest a St George’s Day would be good as well. But a Trafalgar Day would mean that we are celebrating something that was very special in our country’s history, especially for our own area.”