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Nearly 80pc of our region’s tourism businesses remain positive about their economic outlook despite the longest recession since the war.

The buoyant mood of bosses in East Anglia’s £4.4bn industry - a positive finding from the early entries to this year’s Larking Gowen/ EDP Tourism Business Survey - mirrors the conclusions of a new national report by Travelodge that points to a continued upsurge in the staycation despite the economic gloom.

Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at Larking Gowen, welcomed the fact that at the last count - 10 days ahead of the February 3 submission deadline - there had already been 50pc more survey forms completed than last year.

He said: “It is certainly very pleasing, but I would still urge more businesses to complete the survey before the deadline. It will only take 10 to 15 minutes of their time and the bigger the bank of data the more valuable the survey will be.”

He said there had already been a good response from businesses in Suffolk which is being included in the survey for the first time.

Larking Gowen launched the survey seven years ago, to help businesses shape their plans and assist industry leaders in lobbying decision makers, after identifying the fact there was no other gauge of what was taking place in the tourism sector locally.

One of its major achievements has been to highlight the surprisingly robust state of the tourism industry through the recession - a finding now endorsed by the Travelodge report.

Mr Scargill said: “In our survey in 2011, 76pc of businesses were still feeling positive about the future; last year the figure went up to 78pc and the results in so far for this year show it is still holding up at 77pc. This is great news as a large number of businesses suffered due to the poor weather.”

The Travelodge report points to a 12.6m decline in the number of overseas trips taken during the period 2007 to 20011 - with 6.7m of those “lost holidays” being taken in the UK instead.

It suggests the remaining 5.9m holidays were simply not taken but Mr Scargill said this provided further evidence of the staycation phenomenon.

He said: “It reinforces the findings of our survey that growing numbers of people are opting to stay at home and go out on day trips.”

The trend highlighted the need for tourism businesses to think about how to appeal to customers living within 90 minutes of the destination.

To take part in the survey go to www.tourismsurveys.co.uk and click on the link. If you prefer to complete the survey by telephone contact Nick Ward on 0845 4081732.

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