Broads share in new boom in tourism

Broads tourism leaders have endorsed the findings of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which point to a remarkable boom in the rural holiday trade.

The government department's figures reveal a 30pc growth in tourism in England's rural areas over the past six years, with turnover in the sector shooting up from �23bn to more than �30bn.

Its latest statistics reveal that on the Broads more than a third of businesses are now in tourism-related industries.

The minister for the natural environment and rural affairs, Richard Benyon, said: 'Norfolk is home to a diversity of natural environments, from woodland to rare open heath land and the famous Broads.

'I want to see the tourism industry continue to go from strength to strength and I'm working with colleagues across government to help rural businesses tackle the challenges they face. For instance, we're getting more rural areas online and impro-ving access to skills and training.'

Sam Lowe, yard manager of Wroxham-based Barnes Brinkcraft, one of the Broads' leading hire boat operators, said: 'This year has proved as successful for us as two years ago, which was our best season ever.'

He added that staff were continuing to grow and the firm was investing more than �500,000 in four new luxury six-berth boats over the winter.

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Ian Russell, director of Wroxham Barns, said its turnover had increased over the past five years on a level suggested by the Defra figures.

He said: 'Over the past six years the Broads has come from a difficult place to one with a real sense of turnaround.'

He highlighted investment being made by a host of businesses, including Horning Ferry Marina, Bewilderwood and Waveney River Centre.

Bruce Hanson, of the Broads Authority, said: 'This is really great news. There is a renewed confidence that the Broads really can compete on the world stage once again.'

stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk