Heatwave bonanza for tourism

The scorching summer weather is fuelling hopes of a bumper holiday season across East Anglia. As the schools break up and families everywhere turn their thoughts to their annual holiday, tourism chiefs say the heatwave has already seen a quadrupling of people showing an interest in coming to the region.

The scorching summer weather is fuelling hopes of a bumper holiday season across East Anglia.

As the schools break up and families everywhere turn their thoughts to their annual holiday, tourism chiefs say the heatwave has already seen a quadrupling of people showing an interest in coming to the region.

Many hotels and guest houses are reporting being fully booked, with some holidaymakers extending their stay because of the sunshine.

The region's resorts, the Broads and coast, myriad attractions in Norwich and elsewhere and local businesses are voicing optimism that this will be one of the best summers for years.

And they believe they can out-do European destinations by being able to provide last-minute short breaks in weather just as warm as on the continent.

As the county bathed under strong sunshine and blue skies yesterday - and temperatures again set to rise to the high-twenties in coming days - the region's beaches were crowded with holidaymakers - with countless more expected over the seven-week peak season.

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Crispian Emberson, director of Visit Norfolk, said weeks of sunshine were setting tourism chiefs' pulses racing.

“The way things are now, people leave booking holidays to the last minute,” he said. “The weather has a great deal to do with how many people will choose to come to Norfolk.

“Everyone here is set to have a really good school holiday period.”

Mr Emberson added: “There's been a massive increase in the number of people contacting us through our website. The number of inquiries about holidaying here has quadrupled recently.

“Not all of that is down to the weather but that's the major factor, and it's a significant barometer of how successful the season will be.”

Mr Emberson said most visitors to Norfolk came from the Home Counties and the Midlands, and a significant number of local residents would also choose to holiday here because of the weather.

About five million people come to stay in the county each year with a further 25m coming for daytrips. The total business turnover supported by tourism is about £30bn a year in Norfolk alone.

Businesses across the region were equally upbeat.

Jim Ramshaw, a Cromer hotelier and secretary of the North Norfolk Hotel and Guest House Association, said: “I can say quite categorically that the weather is an enormous help.

“At this stage a lot of people booked before the fine period started, but having arrived to sunny weather they've decided that it's so nice here they want to stay for extra days.

“That's good for us as it means a lot of people stay into the week, which is quieter, rather than just weekends, and its good for every other business that relies on tourism too.”

Alan Carr, director of Yarmouth Tourism Authority, added: “This good weather gets people into the holiday mood and all of a sudden we become very, very busy. At times like this the coast is the place to be.

“Over the last ten years there's been a trend for people to leave booking holidays to the last minute and a lot more people are now booking short trips here as an addition to their main, international holiday.

“Short breaks are often weather-based and we're set to reap the rewards of that with the sunshine this summer.”

Clare Packer, marketing manager of Visit Norwich, added: “The summer season has got off to a great start in the Norwich area.

“The good weather has most certainly encouraged people to get out and about and enjoy the city and wider area.

“Hoteliers and other accommodation providers in the area are reporting very high occupancy rates with many being fully booked.”

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