'We have reasons to be cheerful': Tourism bosses feel optimistic for 2020
PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:05 05 February 2020
Bosses of some of the region's biggest attractions said they were feeling optimistic for the year ahead - despite facing rising costs and pressure to invest more.
The heads of a number of Norfolk and Suffolk's visitor venues gathered to launch the 14th annual Tourism, Leisure & Hospitality Business Survey 2020. This online questionnaire asks local businesses from across the sector to take part, giving a detailed insight into the tourist industry when the results are published.
Speaking at the launch at Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, Lenwade, Chris Scargill, tourism partner at MHA Larking Gowen, said: "Interesting times lie ahead; the collapse of Thomas Cook and financial uncertainty in other carriers, combined with a greater call to go green, make a UK stay even more appealing. I'm confident that by working together, businesses in the region can make the most of this and ensure our region develops further into the holiday destination of choice in the UK.
"Understanding how we are doing and sharing views will help business. Once again, we're undertaking the largest independent survey of its kind for your region and we need the help of the sector to do this. The information we gather helps to provide representative and accurate data about the sector. The survey covers many key aspects, creating a useful benchmark. Feedback indicates how welcome this data is. So we are grateful to those who participate and also to others in the sector who encourage people to take part."
You can take part in the survey by clicking here
Most people agreed that 2020 promised to be better than last year, particularly with renewed consumer confidence after Brexit. But some also said they expected it to be challenging with the rise of staff wages and more investment needed in their businesses. Judith Phillips, who runs the stately home Kentwell Hall in Long Melford, Suffolk, said the weather last year had affected visitor numbers; it had been either too hot or too wet. The halloween event had been particualrly affected by poor weather, she said, with takings on the door down by 10-15%. "The restoration of the hall has also cost us a huge amount, and it's challenging when other key attractions don't put their admission prices up." She said the National Trust and English Heritage were examples of this. However, she also said there was a feeling that 2020 was going to bring more business. "It bodes well."
Martin Goymour, MD of Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, said: "There is every reason to be optimistic, we are an attraction which has plenty to do when it rains but it's always a question of offering value for money, quality and variety."
Andrew Hird, chairman of Visit North Norfolk, agreed, saying: "I think we can be optimistic, Brexit has gone to sleep and people are clearly thinking now about what they want to do and the places they want to visit."
Alastair Baker, general manager at the steam museum at Bressingham, said it was how an attraction was promoted which was vital. "We aren't just selling history to people but we are selling a day out."
All businesses in the sector including restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions as well as retailers in the tourism hotspots are being encouraged to participate in the survey which is sponsored by Adnams, Camplings, Howes Percival, Lloyds and Purcell.
Joanna Nicholls, partner at Howes Percival LLP, said, "All businesses across the sector based in East Anglia are strongly encouraged to participate in the survey to make their views count. It provides a great insight into what is happening within the sector and helps to support the growth of the vibrant and diverse businesses across the region."
Those who fill in the survey remain anonymous in the published report, which provides an insightful snapshot of the sector across East Anglia. The survey includes questions about the short and long-term impact of issues like Brexit, the National Living Wage (NLW) and the National Minimum Wage (NMW), and delves into questions around the use of plastics, profit margins and, more generally, how businesses have performed in the last year. The results are published as an annual brochure which will be launched on April 28.