Norfolk is... Waveney’s a winner as tourists head for Sunrise Coast
- Credit: Nick Butcher
With scenic beaches, quaint market towns, picturesque riverside scenes and popular theme parks, Waveney is a region that can easily hold its own in the tourism stakes as an estimated four million people visit it each year.
Described as Suffolk's Sunrise Coast, the region has the five towns of Lowestoft, Southwold, Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth – and each has something different to offer visitors.
The surrounding countryside is well known for its tranquil scenes, especially along the River Waveney.
And the beauty and tourism strength of Waveney is that each town can be seen as its jewel in the crown.
Lowestoft celebrates the fact that it has Suffolk's only Blue Flag beach and its two piers and promenade are a popular destination for families, with children enjoying running through the Royal Plain foundations.
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This year, the fountains are proving very popular as they have been programmed to spray water high into the air to the music of Lowestoft-born composer Benjamin Britten, who was born in the town 100 years ago this November.
In case it rains, the town's Marina Theatre, which has a new £150,000 digital cinema, can provide a source of entertainment with films, shows and plays for people of all ages.
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Just outside Lowestoft are two of the main attractions for the region, Pleasurewood Hills theme park, which celebrated its 30th year of edge-of-the-seat rides this year, and the Africa Alive wildlife park at Kessingland, which has a wide range of exotic animals in its enclosures.
Southwold has a more genteel feel and is well known for its independent shops, Southwold Pier, picture postcard houses and the River Blyth.
Beccles is very much a traditional market town and is well placed to take advantage of the River Waveney as Beccles Quay is a hive of activity while its lido is fast becoming well known as the place to take a dip.
In the towns of Bungay and Halesworth, people can enjoy a tranquil stroll through the streets and take in sights such as Bungay Castle and the Fisher Theatre.
Waveney's attractions do not just end with its five towns, as there is a whole host of attractions and things to do in the surrounding areas.
From Nicholas Everitt Park in Oulton Broad to Carlton Colville's East Anglia Transport Museum and Carlton Marshes nature reserve to River Waveney cruises and the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton, there is much to offer families looking for a day out – in fact, Waveney is the ideal place to explore over the course of a few days by boat, car, bicycle or on foot.
Tourism bosses say the average stay in Suffolk's Sunrise Coast for holiday makers is between five and seven days, and in an effort to draw in even more trippers this summer, Waveney Tourism has sent out 30,000 brochures to entice people to the area by promoting its attractions, local food and drink and cultural experience.
For the last 14 years, the tourism forum and Waveney District Council have worked in tandem to attract four million people a year to visit the region.
And tourism businesses are not resting on their laurels as they improve facilities at their holiday sites such as Heathland Beach Caravan Park at Kessingland and Bourne Leisure's £4m investment at its hotels at Gunton Hall and Corton Coastal Village.
Bernard Reader, chairman of the Waveney Tourism Forum and director of Heathland Beach Caravan Park, said: 'We have a wide range of quality accommodation for all visitors to Suffolk's Sunrise Coast.
'At Heathland Beach we have continually developed to exceed customer expectations, this year including improving the facilities around the pool. My colleagues around the forum continue to do the same. The lovely weather has now arrived and everyone visiting Suffolk's Sunrise Coast is having a great time.'
Bruce Provan, Waveney District Council's cabinet member for leisure, tourism and economic development, said: 'By working in partnership we are able to tackle the issues that are important to the industry, from beach cleaning to marketing.
'We have a tourism economy which is worth more than £250m to our local economy and it supports about 12pc of jobs.
'This is something we take very seriously.
'In 2013, Lowestoft received Suffolk's only Blue Flag beach award thanks to our investment in beach services.
'Our current marketing campaign is performing above target as we attract more and more new visitors to Waveney.'
• PLACES TO VISIT Lowestoft Seafront: A traditional British seaside with a Blue Flag beach, two piers, the Royal Plain fountains and a lively town centre.
Southwold Pier: The perfect place to gain a vantage point for glorious views of the north Suffolk coastline and enjoy fish and chips at the same time.
Africa Alive!: The wildlife park at Kessingland is a popular destination for children who can enjoy seeing a wide range of animals, such as a pride of lions and giraffes and rhinos.
Pleasurewood Hills: A top venue for thrill-seekers who can go on various fun and scary rides much as Hobs Pit and the Wipeout, above.
Carlton Marshes: The Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Carlton Colville is a tranquil place where visitors can get away from it all by enjoying stunning views and trying to spot its myriad of wildlife.
Oulton Broad: With Nicholas Everitt Park, Lowestoft Museum, and a small flotilla of boats, Oulton Broad is a scenic spot to take a stroll and enjoy a picnic or spot of lunch.
Bungay Castle: The Norman remains of Bungay Castle are to be found right in the centre of Bungay, hidden behind the main shopping area. The castle dates back to about 1165 and is the second to be built on the site.
The East Anglia Transport Museum: People can visit the museum at Carlton Colville to take a trip back in time by enjoying its large collection of vintage vehicles, including buses and trams.
The River Waveney: A cruise along the River Waveney offers unparalleled views of the countryside, with pubs, such as the Geldeston Locks Inn, always offering a warm welcome.
Beccles Quay: Beccles Quay is a large open space with picnic benches and children's play area, surrounded by the River Waveney with boat mooring facilities.
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