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Value of Norfolk's tourism industry tops £3bn for the first time

Beccles Lido is packed with people enjoying the hot summer weather.

PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Beccles Lido is packed with people enjoying the hot summer weather. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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The value of Norfolk's thriving tourism industry has topped the £3bn mark for the first time, we can reveal.

How does our industry stack up?

Unsurprisingly, the most lucrative tourism industry in the country belongs to London, sitting at £15bn.

Last year, 31.5m people visited the capital and its plentiful museums, attractions and parks.

But Norfolk surpasses some of England’s best-known holiday hotspots, including Cornwall, where tourism is worth £2.4bn, and Devon, also £2.4bn.

In a survey of tourism firms earlier this year, many said they felt the government overlooked the East in favour of the south-west coast when dishing out funding.

Meanwhile, tourists to Cumbria and the Lake District generated £2.6bn for the economy last year.

But Norfolk is outstripped by Yorkshire, where tourism is worth £7bn – up from £5.9bn just two years ago.

As Norfolk basks in another day of sunshine, its beaches and parks packed, attractions, restaurants and hotels are celebrating news of a bumper period which has seen the value of local tourism jump by an incredible £100m in just 12 months.

Last year, the millions of visitors to Nelson’s County generated £3.06bn, up from £2.96bn in 2014, according to new figures from Visit Norfolk.

It makes local tourism more lucrative than in holiday destinations including Cornwall and Devon. And after a strong summer, with more hot weather in store today and this weekend, hopes are high this year will prove even stronger. Pete Waters, executive director at Visit East Anglia, of which Visit Norfolk is a part, said it was testament to constant investment and a determination to extol Norfolk’s virtues around the country.

He said: “Tourism is already the largest industry sector in Norfolk, but this shows that we can deliver more jobs and more value to the local economy, particularly as we work to develop the year-round visitor economy and convert day trippers to stay visitors.

“Surpassing the £3bn mark is a real testament to the collaborative way we work, our marketing activity being decided by a panel made up of representatives of all Norfolk district councils and local destination organisations.

“It’s thanks to them and their investment that we’re able to do this work that benefits the whole county.”

He said there were many people who deserved “a pat on the back” after a joint campaign to boost its value beyond £3bn. Yesterday, as families and sun-seekers made the most of the remaining summer, it was easy to see why Norfolk has proven so popular.

Ian Russell, owner of Wroxham Barns, said it was the “compelling” mix of all Norfolk has to offer that attracted so many visitors.

Graham and Yvonne Rogers enjoying the September sunshine in Beccles.

PHOTO: Nick ButcherGraham and Yvonne Rogers enjoying the September sunshine in Beccles. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

“It’s the Broads, the coastline, Norwich and it’s wheat ale history – from countryside to the city we have it all and it’s a very powerful combination,” he said. “Most places only have parts of what we do, but if you look around the visitor economy is everywhere in Norfolk, right down to our smallest villages.”

He said the milestone was made all the more impressive when considering the “vast” sums of government funding other areas had received.

Mr Waters said the challenge was now to overcome the trend of “booking later and shorter” and encourage people to visit for longer.

A campaign put into place on the London Underground celebrating the A11 dualling had been a particular success, he said, though the county is reaping the benefits of a national move towards holidaying at home.

The Brexit vote in June and instability abroad has strengthened the well-documented staycation trend.

• Do you have a tourism story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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