Tourism minister visits Norfolk to back Covid-19 hit attractions
PUBLISHED: 13:47 21 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:15 21 August 2020
From sea creatures to samphire - a government minister has enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of Norfolk tourism as it bounces back from the pandemic.
Tourism minister and MP for Mid Worcestershire Nigel Huddleston visited some of the county’s top visitor attractions and destinations during a day trip to discover how businesses are working hard to reassure visitors.
During the flying visit he saw two Norman masterpieces, the 900-year-old Norwich Cathedral, which is soon to host the National History Museum’s Dippy the Dinosaur, a feature it hopes will attract thousands of visitors, and Norwich Castle.
Norfolk County Council director of culture and heritage Steve Miller detailed the work now beginning on a £13.5m National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported ‘Gateway to Medieval England’ redevelopment of the castle’s keep to how it looked as a 12th-century Royal palace.
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The minister, who was invited to see and hear about the impact on Norfolk tourism by Visit East of England, then went to Sea Life Centre in Great Yarmouth.
With tourism one of the key industries in the county, business owners have warned an upturn in visitor numbers in the remainder of the summer holiday period could be crucial for the sector to bounce back.
Visit East of England executive director Pete Waters said: “Government financial packages have helped kickstart business recovery and it is clear from the large number of visitors the minister has seen today that there is an appetite to get out and about again and enjoy our superb tourism offering in the region.
“But reassurance and safety are paramount. We can’t allow a second Covid-19 spike because that will end tourism for 2020 and many businesses will not survive. So the message remains, enjoy your visit but please ‘Stay alert’ and adhere to social distancing rules.”
The minister also visited Wroxham to see the lengths boating businesses are going to reassure visitors. The final stop of the day-long tour was Cromer, where he enjoyed Cromer crab with samphire and cockle popcorn at No 1 Cromer, owned and run by Michelin-starred Galton Blackiston and wife Tracy.
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He also learnt more about the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Tourism Recovery Plan and Norfolk County Council’s £2.2m Tourism Sector Support Package from the Norfolk Strategic Fund.
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Mr Huddleston said: “It was brilliant to visit Norfolk to hear about all the important work being undertaken to ensure that visitors are able to enjoy attractions like Norwich Cathedral and the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre safely.
“The tourism sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus and we have helped with an unprecedented package of measures including the job retention scheme, a years’ business rates holiday and most recently a £4bn reduction in VAT benefitting the sector.”
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