Heatwave keeps the sun shining on Norfolk’s tourism businesses

Yacht hire firm Eastwood Whelpton in Upton is seeing strong bookings in the summer heatwave. Picture

Yacht hire firm Eastwood Whelpton in Upton is seeing strong bookings in the summer heatwave. Picture: Annie Hamilton - Credit: Annie Hamilton

Nearly two months of hot, sunny weather has put Norfolk's tourism businesses back on track after a disappointing start to the year – with some now exceeding last year's performance.

While for some the heatwave is causing serious problems, for tourism and leisure firms – particularly those in the day trip market – it is a chance to make hay.

Boating firms on the Norfolk Broads are making the most of a recent staycation boom as the county's residents eschew foreign climes for a day trip or holiday at home.

At Ferry Marina in Horning, more local custom has been boosting its day boat hire while a steady increase in summer bookings for its holiday cruisers since the spring has left it with limited availability for those looking for a last-minute break.

General manager Lisa Hodds said: 'What is interesting is the number of local people taking advantage of the warm weather and choosing to take days out on the Broads in one of our luxury day cruisers. With no let up in the weather and the school holidays upon us we expect to see the number of mid week bookings increase over the next four to six weeks.'

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Amanda Mason, marketing manager at boat hire firm Herbert Woods, said day boat hire at the Potter Heigham company was up by 24% over the past few weeks on the same period last year.

She said: 'Bookings have been great over the past few weeks the sunshine is definitely helping.'

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Annie Hamilton, of yacht hire firm Eastwood Whelpton in Upton, said the company had received a significant number of last-minute online bookings – and that the scorching weather had led some customers to borrow solar showers to keep cool on their craft.

She added: 'We are also getting some fabulous sea-breezes in the afternoon which is great for sailing.'

The county's attractions are also soaking up the benefits of a hot summer – with many such as Bewilderwood and Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure now heading into their busiest period, the summer holidays, on a wave of higher attendance through June and July.

Millie Batch, head of marketing at Bewilderwood, said attendance so far in July was up compared with 2017.

She added: 'If visitors are looking to get out of the sunshine, our lovely tree canopy offers cooling shade for folks running WILD in the woods and our slides and seating areas have sail covers for when folk want a break.'

Meanwhile Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade has stocked up on sun protection essentials for parents to purchase.

Accommodation providers are feeling the benefit of the heat too as guests feel more positive about making bookings.

At Norfolk Country Cottages, forward bookings for 2019 so far are up 1,327% compared with the same time last year, when the weather was more than 10 degrees colder.

The Holt and Reepham based company said bookings for longer breaks (between 8 and 18 days) are up by 195% compared to June and July last year and up 37% in August while short break bookings were up 78% year-on-year during June and July.

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