Holidaying at home really isn’t the last resort

It seems we might now be in for a spell of good weather.

It seems we might now be in for a spell of good weather. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Unofficial it may have been – but what a start to summer it was.

You wouldn't have guessed it last week, but as the clouds cleared and temperatures tipped into the 20s, this weekend was to signal the beginning of summer time.

As boats cruised along rivers and spare seats in beer gardens remained few and far between, the unofficial first weekend of summer well and truly shook off the damp memory of half-term.

And our collective sigh of relief was surpassed only by that of those behind the region's attractions, restaurants and pubs.

A flick through the weekend's newspapers offered a timely reminder – tourism is fragile.

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Egypt's visitor hotspots deserted following plane crash, one million fewer holidaymakers in Tunisia after 2015 terror attack and numbers at Paris attractions plummet after shootings, the headlines screamed.

Even the rising Seine prompted murmurs of a knock to visitor numbers after violent strikes and protests turned springtime in the French capital into a season of discontent – with tourism chiefs reportedly drawing up a campaign to bring back disenfranchised visitors.

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Worries over instability abroad and the headache of travel remain a priority when we sit down to book a break.

Since, in 2009, the word staycation crept into newspapers pages, and eventually everyday use, the holiday industry at home has boomed.

Poised to capitalise on a market in the midst of a recession, major investment was made to convince discerning holidaymakers that vacationing closer to home didn't need to mean hiding from downpours in a damp cottage.

Accommodation was modernised, hot tubs now a common sight, and attractions were even, where possible, safeguarded against the Great British Weather.

When added to the region's rural charm and natural beauty, its big skies, Broads and beaches, it created a force to be reckoned with and shored up an already sturdy tourism industry that has continued to grow – and that we should be boasting about.

And while our purse strings might have loosened somewhat in the years since, enough has been done to convince us that holidaying at home is not a last resort.

Every week I hear from boating firms, holiday businesses and hoteliers with, by and large, the same message – bookings are up and business is booming.

If you believe the forecasters – and if I don't have the Michael Fish effect – we're now in for a spell of warmer weather.

I've written about, and firmly believe, how the tourism industry should be a year-round affair, how we don't need the sun to see the best of East Anglia.

It's true – we don't.

But we all know that it helps.

So get the diary out and, whether for an hour, a day or a week, take the chance to explore and support the offering right on our doorstep.

Lauren Cope is the EDP's Broads and tourism correspondent

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