New group will bolster tourist trade in Southwold

It is one of the most popular destinations on the Suffolk coast and now residents are taking tourism into their own hands.

The first Southwold Tourism Group has been established to ensure local people have a say on the future of the town's tourism trade.

From Southwold Pier to the historic harbour there is plenty to attract people to the area, but the new body, which brings together a cross section of the community, has been tasked with making sure those passers-by will want to come back.

The group was set up by Waveney District Council, but is chaired independently and will set its own agenda.

Charlie Ashwell, who runs the award-winning Blyth Hotel in Station Road, is a member and attended the most recent meeting last week.

She said: 'What was really apparent is that everybody involved has the town's best interests at heart. We're singing from the same hymn sheet and that's really encouraging.

'Southwold is a great destination, but we've got to maintain services and make improvements if we want to see people coming back. Tourism is the lifeblood of this town.'

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The group has already discussed the controversial ship-to-ship oil transfers which resume off the Suffolk coast this spring, the town's public toilets, dog fouling and the need for better signage.

Darren Newman, tourism & heritage manager for Waveney, said the body was a powerful platform for resolving issues facing tourism.

He said: 'As it is newly formed, a constitution or a list of aims are not formally in place yet but in essence, the group discusses issues and actions affecting tourism in the town, then feeds into the larger Waveney Tourism Forum.'