‘Bookings through the roof’: Broads boat firms selling out for 2021

Antony Howell has been made managing director of Broom Boats. Picture: Simon Buck

Antony Howell has been made managing director of Broom Boats. Picture: Simon Buck - Credit: Simon Buck

Boat operators are swimming against the trading tide and predicting a tremendous year in 2021, as Covid fears force people to look closer to home for their holidays.

Hire boats moored at the Acle Bridge Inn as holidaymakers explore the Broads. Picture: DENISE BRADLE

Hire boats moored at the Acle Bridge Inn as holidaymakers explore the Broads. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Broads boat firms are among those reporting bumper bookings in the wake of what proved to be the “best ever” September for some companies.

The Broads Authority said there had been an increase in visitors to the Norfolk Broads since hire boats returned in July.

During the summer operators saw their phones ringing off the hook with interest to hire boats during the hot weather.

The bookings have not stopped, with some boatyards seeing up to an 80pc increase in advance bookings for summer 2021.

Hire boats moored at the Acle Bridge Inn as holidaymakers explore the Broads. Picture: DENISE BRADLE

Hire boats moored at the Acle Bridge Inn as holidaymakers explore the Broads. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020


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A Broads Authority spokesman said: “We have seen an increase in visitor numbers since hire boats returned to the National Park in July, in part influenced by the trend of holidaying in the UK rather than going abroad.

“This, combined with good summer weather, resulted in a very busy, condensed tourism season. Depending on lockdown restrictions and rules on foreign travel, we anticipate an extremely busy tourist season next year.”

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Mary Sparrow, director of Hippersons Boatyard in Beccles, said advance accommodation bookings had increased threefold for next year, or 35pc of next year’s possible bookings.

Mrs Sparrow, vice chair of Visit the Broads, said: “This summer since reopening we have been busier as many more guests decided to stay in the UK for their holiday.

Hire boats moored at the Acle Bridge Inn as holidaymakers explore the Broads. Picture: DENISE BRADLE

Hire boats moored at the Acle Bridge Inn as holidaymakers explore the Broads. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

“I hope that most businesses will have had the opportunity to do enough to keep their heads above water this year, as we must not forget we were all closed completely for a significant part of the season.

“One of the most important goals for many of our members is to keep their staff employed, as our staff make us who we are.”

Antony Howell, of Brooms Boats, in Brundall, said the demand was seeing the company extend their season to December.

He added: “We are seeing extremely strong bookings for 2021 and we expect this to continue with the expectation that we will be fully booked prior to the normal season start in March so therefore we are advising customers to book early to avoid disappointment.

Pam Robinson, Broadland Charters owner and skipper with her boat Norfolk Time on the River Bure at A

Pam Robinson, Broadland Charters owner and skipper with her boat Norfolk Time on the River Bure at Acle. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

“We as a Broom team could not be happier in being able to help our customers enjoy such relaxing holidays in this beautiful part of the world.

”Pam Robinson, of Broadland Charters in South Walsham, thought her second year in business was going to “mothball” until trip boats were given the green light in July and has seen bookings double in comparison to her first year.

There has also been a huge uptake in winter trips on the luxury cruiser, which Ms Robinson skippers with a crew.

Ms Robinson said: “I have been going out every day. The hire boat yards have extended their season, most of them would have shut at the end of half term but they are running into November, some are running into Christmas.

Norfolk Time, the Broadland Charters' charter boat on the River Bure at Acle. Picture: DENISE BRADLE

Norfolk Time, the Broadland Charters' charter boat on the River Bure at Acle. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

“It was really worrying, I thought things were not going to happen. I do not think this would have happened in normal years.

“Bookings next year are through the roof. People are struggling to get the boats for next year. I love the Broads, I want to show people what the Broads have to offer.

“I had no bookings last winter, we are now going through October, November, December and January.

“I just wanted to be on the water and I wanted to show them what it is all about.”

Mary Sparrow, Event Organiser. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Mary Sparrow, Event Organiser. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

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