A call to tourism businesses - help create snapshot of growing industry

From left to right, Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East Anglia, Chris Scargill, tourism an

From left to right, Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East Anglia, Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at Larking Gowen, and Martin Dupee, operations director of Africa Alive and Banham Zoo and chairman of Norfolk and Suffolk Tourist Attracitions. Picture: Larking Gowen/Sylvaine Poitau - Credit: Archant

The repercussions of Brexit and accessibility will be among the topics covered by a survey which will build a picture of the region's tourism.

Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at Larking Gowen. Picture: Larking Gowen/Sylvaine Poitau

Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at Larking Gowen. Picture: Larking Gowen/Sylvaine Poitau - Credit: Archant

Accountants Larking Gowen has today launched its Tourism Business Survey, which, for the last 11 years, has canvassed the views of the industry in the east.

Produced with Visit East Anglia, the survey – covering Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex – gives an overview of confidence in tourism and sector concerns.

This year, among questions on bookings, social media and the National Living Wage, restaurateurs, hoteliers, accommodation providers and attraction owners will be quizzed on how suitable their business is for disabled visitors, broadband quality and their fears over Brexit.

Chris Scargill, Larking Gowen's tourism and leisure partner, said: 'There is a lot of good anecdotal evidence in the tourist sector but this survey provides an opportunity to mark the current trends with a series of valuable statistics. The survey highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the industry as well as its economic benefits to the region.'

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Martin Dupee, chairman of Norfolk and Suffolk Tourist Attractions (NSTA) and director of operations at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive, said it would explain the industry's mood in a time of uncertainty.

'I look forward to participating in and seeing the annual tourism survey report as it gives me a handle on how the industry is not only performing but also where confidence is going forward,' he said. 'These are interesting times for us all and, it is my view, that this is the time for domestic tourism to reap the benefits of the uncertainty.'

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Participants can opt to receive a tailored report analysing their yearly performance and will remain anonymous in the report published from the results.

Fill in the survey by visiting www.tourismsurveys.co.uk and share your views on Twitter using the hashtag #yourviewscount

What did we learn in last year's survey?

• The 2016 survey revealed a healthy sector, with 64% of businesses having seen a rise in turnover.

• 66% of respondents expected an increased turnover and 59% anticipated higher profits for the rest of the year.

• But it showed a call for more government support - with 81% of people saying they did not believe the government did enough to back the sector.

• 57% of people said no political party stood out as supporting tourism.

• 53% said that Cornwall was better promoted than Norfolk and 51% believe the Lake District gets a fairer deal.

• 78%, of businesses feel VAT should be cut on tourism and leisure-related activities.

Domestic tourism thriving in Brexit uncertainty

Like most sectors, domestic tourism is racing to cope with the aftershocks, both realised and anticipated, of the Brexit vote.

So far, the slump in the pound has seen a surge in both inbound tourists, whose budgets are now stretching further, and Brits, put off by the poor exchange rate, holidaying at home. Last year saw a booming tourism season both nationally and regionally – in Norfolk, the sector's value topped £3bn and businesses across the region reported strong bookings, in many cases leading to more investment.

Visit Britain has predicted the favourable exchange rate could see visitor spending in 2017 continue to rise – by 8.1%, up to £24.1bn, on last year.

It is a faster rate of growth than the rest of the country has seen in recent years. Norfolk and Suffolk's strength will continue to be in teamwork - alongside bodies such as the NSTA, there are cross-county business partnerships.

• Share your tourism success stories with us by emailing lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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