What did we learn from the 2016 Larking Gowen Tourism Survey?

A breakdown of the Larking Gowen Tourism Survey results. Graphic: Robert McVicar

A breakdown of the Larking Gowen Tourism Survey results. Graphic: Robert McVicar - Credit: Archant

The region's multi-billion pound tourism industry is feeling buoyant as the summer season begins, a survey has found.

The audience at the Larking Gowen Tourism survey results seminar. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The audience at the Larking Gowen Tourism survey results seminar. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The 2016 Larking Gowen Tourism Survey, now in its 10th year, is an annual indicator of the industry's success in the previous year and optimism for the coming months.

Tourism in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex is now valued at £7.7bn - with almost £3bn of this in Norfolk alone.

So what did we learn from the survey?

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Turnover is up

This year, the survey revealed a healthy sector, with 64pc of businesses seeing turnover increase last year, which for 53pc led to better profits.

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Turnover growth in spite of inflation is positive - 67pc of businesses saw increases of 6pc in 2015 with a similar level of increase expected next year.

And confidence for next year remains high, with 66pc expecting increased turnover and 59pc anticipating higher profits.

However, the survey found that long-term profitability is causing concern - with 28pc of businesses highlighting it as a concern for the future.

There are calls for more governmental support...

It also showed a clear call for the government to give more funding to local authorities in the region, with 81pc of those surveyed believing the government does not do enough to support tourism.

More than half of respondents, 57pc, say that no political party stands out as supporting tourism.

Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at Larking Gowen and survey publisher, said: 'It is interesting to see how the survey has developed over the past 10 years and it is pleasing to see how businesses appear to be in a better position than a decade ago.

'However businesses feel strongly that the government does not provide enough support for our region.

'We proudly host a tourism and leisure industry worth £7.7bn in the eastern counties and it is important that the voices of the contributing businesses are heard.'

...and a desire for a tourism tax cut

The survey also found that 78pc of businesses believe VAT should be cut on tourism and leisure related activities.

The Cut Tourism VAT campaign is arguing for the rate of tourism tax to be brought into line with competitor destinations within the European Union.

But fears over terrorism and issues abroad saw the proportion of businesses worried about cheap European holidays drop from 29pc last year to 19pc this year.

Concerns over weather in the region are still felt by 36pc of businesses, while 41pc are fearful over the state of the UK national economy.

Businesses feel other areas are getting a fairer deal

Concerns centring on government funding saw firms point to other areas around the country they feel benefit from better support and promotion.

More than half of those surveyed, 53pc, said that Cornwall was better promoted than their county, while 51pc said they believe the Lake District also receives a fairer deal.

The survey also revealed 36pc believe Yorkshire is better promoted, while 35pc said the same of Devon.

Tourism campaigns in both Yorkshire and Cornwall have received millions of pounds in government funding over the last couple of years, something which bosses in the eastern region say is unfair.

Shifts in staffing will be largely positive

Despite a thriving tourism industry, just 44pc of businesses in the region employ staff on zero-hour contracts.

Of those, 36pc said they provide 11 to 20 hours of work a week, while 10pc said they offered more than 30 hours a week.

This year, 19pc of businesses in Norfolk expect staff numbers to increase, while 6pc expect them to decrease.

In Essex, 100pc of those surveyed believe staff numbers will stay the same.

Staff pay will increase in all but 6pc of surveyed businesses - a decrease from the previous year.

A high number, 94pc, of participants suggested that they had increased or maintained staff numbers last year.

For more information and a full copy of the survey, visit www.tourismsurveys.co.uk• If you've got a tourism story, email correspondent Lauren Cope on lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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