Suffolk tourism conference attracts 100 people

KEY figures in Suffolk's tourism industry yesterday heard how the county was bucking the economic downturn with a 7pc year-on-year growth rate.

Tourism has become one of Suffolk's key industries and is worth tens of millions of pounds to the county's economy each year.

More than 100 key industry figures yesterday gathered in Stoke by Nayland for an event called Destination Suffolk, organised by Choose Suffolk.

They were addressed by a number of speakers.

Choose Suffolk's chief executive Tim Passmore told the audience that Suffolk was the breadbasket of the UK and that its production of beers, wine, fruit juices, vegetables and meat were fundamental to the UK.

'This growth of over 7% is something that the rest of the UK economy could benefit from.

'It is something that we can be proud of and is something that is vitally important to the growth and sustainability of our economy.'

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The key note speaker for the event was Lady Caroline Cranbrook, president of the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival.

She told delegates how growing awareness of locally sourced food would help boost the county's economy still further.

'Eating habits have changed over recent years and this means that there is more of a trend to eat locally produced food which is good news for our farmers here in Suffolk,' she said.

The conference was also told how the county could seize on opportunities presented by London 12.

Chris Foy, the head of the 2012 Games unit at Visit Britain, said: 'Over an extra half a million people will come to our county because of the Olympics.

'We must 'harvest the afterglow' of the games and make sure all of the citizens of Suffolk benefit.'

During the afternoon workshops were held on a range of subjects including use of social media, boosting business and the art of communications.

'This year's conference was an important date on the calendar for Suffolk,' said Brigit Parker, marketing manager at Choose Suffolk.

'Destination Suffolk was about highlighting what we do well and sharing the good practice that puts our county in the premier league of tourism in the UK. We have much to shout about and I am encouraged that delegates left excited about the year ahead.'