Sunny days mean sunnier times for tourism industry
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Let's keep our fingers crossed for good weather, says Nick Conrad. After all, it means jobs for Norfolk people.
Maybe keeping our fingers crossed for good weekend weather really does work. The bumper bank holiday weekend is upon us and the forecast is glorious. I'm absolutely delighted with the fantastic weather in prospect, and for our hard-working tourist industry this is the early(ish) boost they so desperately deserve.
As a radio presenter who inhabits environs where the weather is immaterial, I don't envy those who must nervously obsess over the Met Office's predictions. As 'Three Men in Boat' author Jerome K Jerome once observed wryly: 'Who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand.'
I recently spoke with a North Norfolk café owner who highlighted how financially important a good season is over a bad one. 'I was going to jack it all in as the business was in a poor state,' he told me. 'Then we had an excellent summer last year - and all of a sudden the books looked much more healthy.'
Tourist attractions, pubs, restaurants and kiosks also face the predicament of running seasonal businesses susceptible to the weather. It must be pretty demoralising that their best-laid plans, endeavour and entrepreneurship can be washed away by the dark rain clouds.
But there are welcome rays of sunshine on the horizon, ones that in the short term at least might afford us a little stability.
And, no, it's not the forecast. An increasing number of British nationals are turning their backs on foreign holidays and set to take 'staycations' this summer. According to The Tourism Alliance, which encourages people to visit the UK, our tourist industry is set to benefit to the tune of £1.4 billion.
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In another boost, the alliance director Kurt Janson revealed this cash would support 40,000 new jobs in tourism across the UK. This is great news for Norfolk, which will be sharing in this jobs bounty.
So why are so many people deciding to shun the foreign sun, choosing instead to soak up the rays on the Costa del Norfolk?
Brexit, fear of terrorism and the devalued pound are just some of the reasons cited. But a bumper 2017 would also be building on strong foundations. Last September the EDP revealed that the value of Norfolk's thriving tourism industry had topped the £3 billion mark for the first time – jumping an incredible £100 million in just 12 months.
We're starting to proactively promote Norfolk. One fact that delights me: Norfolk's tourism cash pot is more lucrative than more traditionally high-profile holiday destinations including Cornwall and Devon. And after a strong start to the year, with more hot weather in store today and across this elongated weekend, hopes are high this year that it will push the county up a record level. If achieved, this would be testament to constant investment and a determination to extol Norfolk's virtues around the country in a new and innovative way.
Tourism is already the largest industry sector in Norfolk, but these encouraging statistics demonstrate that we can deliver even more jobs and more value to the local economy, particularly as we work to develop the year-round visitor economy the county deserves.
So let's hope our county basks in three days of sunshine this weekend. Packed beaches, parks, attractions, restaurants and hotels underline the value of local tourism and why it's imperative that we support this hard-working sector.
I adore this wonderful part of the UK, Nelson's County. And I look forward to sharing it with whoever has the good fortune to visit us.