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East Anglia Future 50

Norfolk tourism breaks records in 2017 for visitor numbers and economic value

The value of the tourism economy in Norfolk has risen to its highest ever level, new figures show. Picture: Archant

The value of the tourism economy in Norfolk has risen to its highest ever level, new figures show. Picture: Archant

Archant Norfolk © 2015

Norfolk’s tourism industry saw a record-breaking year in 2017 as the county welcomed more visitors than ever before.

Figures from Visit Norfolk show the value of the county’s tourism economy rose to a new high of £3.25bn, up 3% on 2016, while the number of visitors to the county grew by 7%.

The number of people staying overnight increased by 7% to 3.3 million and the total number of staying nights rose 9% to 13.5 million.

There were also 43.5 million day trips to the county through the year, an increase of 6%, while the value of day trips rose 3%.

The number of jobs in Norfolk’s tourism sector felt the benefit, rising by 3% to 65,398 – accounting for almost a fifth (18.4%) of all employment.

Pete Waters, Visit Norfolk manager, said the “fantastic” figures meant the county’s visitor economy had increased in value by more than £500m since 2012.

“We still have some way to go to be considered a top-of-mind visitor destination, but we are outperforming England as a whole and we should be confident going into a post-Brexit world. We have an unrivalled year-round offering.”

He added that cooperation between the public and private sectors would be crucial going forward. “Seeing the bigger picture and being collaborative is paying dividends and marketing the county with an over-arching umbrella brand is clearing bringing success to all the destinations.”

The figures come a month after Visit Norfolk’s quarterly business monitor showed that almost three quarters of all businesses are confident about the immediate future.

Martin Dupee, chairman of Norfolk and Suffolk Tourist Attractions, said: “These figures are very encouraging but we can’t rest on our laurels. The leisure and hospitality sectors are increasingly competitive so it’s important we continue to invest in our product to stay one step ahead.”

He said that while the uncertainty around Brexit had fuelled the “staycation” trend, it had not benefited visits to attractions on days out. “Some clarity from government about the future would be welcome in re-establishing optimism,” he added.

Ruth Knight, chairman of Visit the Broads, said the appeal of the county’s “strong brands” – such as the Norfolk Broads and Norwich – could be maximised through collaborative working.

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chief executive Chris Starkie said: “I’d like to think the stars are aligning for the tourism sector and its strategy to develop the year-round visitor economy and increase the number of staying visitors.

“With Suffolk’s visitor economy now over £2bn for the first time, these figures are testament to an industry that is getting its act together.”

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