Norfolk’s just bonza for holidays
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Might we soon be noticing more Australian accents drifting across the waterways of the Broads or around the streets of our fine city?
And could we be about to see a deluge of visitors from Down Under soaking up Norfolk's Royal heritage with the yearning of a Republican nation – or even ordering 'a few warm ones' from our renowned hostelries.
The 22-hour flight normally takes our Antipodean friends to Europe's capital cities and, in this country, the obvious tourist hotspots such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Canterbury and York.
However, the jewels of our county have now been put firmly on the radar of Australian tourists by a glowing travel feature written by a former Norfolk boy.
Journalist Winsor Dobbin lived in Harleston from the age of nine to 13 and, even though he has lived in Australia for more than 30 years, retains his allegiance to the county and the badge of Norwich City Football Club.
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Following a nostalgic trip 'home', he has written a glowing testimony of the county in Sydney's leading Sunday paper, the Sun-Herald.
Despite a career spanning cities including London, Paris and Johannesburg, his top travel tip is to discover Norfolk – 'one of Britain's best kept secrets'.
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In his article, he invites tourists to 'follow the young royals to Norfolk' and waxes lyrical from west – 'idyllic Holkham Beach' – to east – 'Great Yarmouth with its old-style seaside funfair'.
He extols rural Norfolk – 'a seductive slice of old England' – and is equally ebullient about Norwich, 'a charming medieval city... which simply strolled into the 21st century at its own pace'.
Mr Dobbin invites his adopted countrymen to 'pick up a small boat at Wroxham or Hoveton and cruise past the many windmills, tea rooms, riverside pubs and quaint villages'.
Such a tempting endorsement to travel east has been eagerly seized on by Visit Norfolk brand manager Pete Waters, who urged the county to shout louder about its unrivalled attractions at a tourism conference earlier this month.
While stressing the importance of focusing their marketing spend on a two-hour travel time to Norfolk, he said: 'Promoting ourselves around the world and shouting louder about our tourism offering is exactly what we need to do. Positive coverage from the Antipodes is very welcome, but we have to constantly push our visitor experience through any medium we can and wherever we can around the world.
'The main issue that Norfolk has is that although our overall tourism offering is probably the best in the UK, we're not top of mind and awareness isn't strong enough of Norfolk as a year-round destination for people of all ages and interests. That's why it's good to now see the county's tourism industry working together to spread our message.'
He raised the possibility of Mr Dobbin's article becoming part of a welcome trend in travel journalism Down Under. He said: 'We have recently placed an Australian journalist in North Norfolk walking the Norfolk Coast Path and another Australian who is travelling around the world has written about his love of Norfolk, where he tried his first taste of real ale, in his travel blog.'
Broads Authority spokesman Hilary Franzen said: 'Winsor has remarkable insight and feeling for Norfolk and we are delighted to see he is championing our beautiful county highlighting the idyllic qualities and charm that set it apart from the rest of the country. The secret could now be out... with the Aussies discovering the unique appeal of Britain's Magical Waterland.'