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Confidence boost for region’s tourism businesses after Brexit vote

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 August 2016 | UPDATED: 07:49 26 August 2016

Caister Holiday Park general manager Gareth Brown.

Caister Holiday Park general manager Gareth Brown.

Archant

Buoyant holiday firms claim the Brexit vote has triggered “phenomenal” bookings and bolstered confidence in future investment.

General manger Andrew Hird of Woodland Holiday Park in Trimingham in the 7 acre arable field which is being developed into a site for 50 luxury holiday homes at a cost of £1.5m.

Picture: MARK BULLIMOREGeneral manger Andrew Hird of Woodland Holiday Park in Trimingham in the 7 acre arable field which is being developed into a site for 50 luxury holiday homes at a cost of £1.5m. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

At Woodland Holiday Park on the north Norfolk coast, directors this week agreed to push on with the second phase of a £1.5m development of 52 holiday homes - a decision which was originally due to be made next year.

Andrew Hird, general manager, said bookings at the Trimingham park had been “excellent” over the last couple of months and that while Brexit was not the sole reason, it was “certainly a factor”.

“From our point of view we have seen a very strong July and August, with lots of people anecdotally talking about how exchange rates falling means they may as well spend their money here,” he said.

“Certainly our hoiliday bookings for the last two months have been exceptional - we are growing at a rate that is ahead of our plans.”

He said return bookings for next year were already up 10pc year on year, while the firm was confident sales on the new holiday homes would be strong.

Mr Hird, who is also chairman of Visit North Norfolk, said the local industry was able to capitalise on a general concern over travelling abroad.

“People are feeling uncertain about going abroad, particularly when it involves airport,” he said. “Here on the north Norfolk coast we are also one of the driest and sunniest regions, which you can’t underestimate the importance of.”

Meanwhile, Haven’s Caister holiday park is reaping the benefits of a £2m three-year investment in deck houses announced earlier this year.

General manager Gareth Brown said: “I think like most businesses there was a little bit of a hiatus after the Brexit decision came along, but in the last several weeks we have seen phenomenal bookings coming through.

“There are other factors at play, but it certainly looks as though people are keen to make the most of what’s on offer here.”

Mr Brown, who is also chairman of the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement District (BID), said the positive mood was felt across the town, which he described as “absolutely heaving”.

As reported earlier this week, private equity firm Caledonia Investments has also cancelled the £250m-plus sale of caravan park operator Park Holidays – which owns parks in East Anglia – following Britain’s decision to quit the European Union.

Caledonia had hired PwC to help with the sale process but, since June 23, the group has opted to keep hold of the company, as it expects its performance to rocket off the back of the vote.

A new study from Barclays Business has supported the future growth in domestic tourism, finding that 70pc of adults have been, or plan to go, on a staycation.

The report also found that, on average, holidaymakers spend 6pc more than they did a year ago.

• Do you have a tourism story we should be writing about? Email correspondent Lauren Cope on lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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