'Everybody is busy' - Businesses coping with the impact of tourists
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Businesses on the north Norfolk coast have said while its resorts are heaving with visitors, the staycation boom will never be enough to recover money lost during the pandemic.
Most traders have reported a swell in visitors numbers last summer and while contending with staffing shortages had been tricky, overall business was good.
But the extra footfall has led to local road networks being overwhelmed with traffic, an increase in no-show bookings and extra pressure on businesses to meet demand.
Jason Bean, a partner in the family business, Beans Boats, based at Morston Quay, said the summer was "absolutely manic" with "too many people and not enough space".
Mr Bean said the whole area was struggling to cope with the number of visitors leading to the local road network being overwhelmed at points.
He said: "The whole area is fully booked, everywhere from the little cafés to the hotels and restaurants, everybody is busy and people are getting frustrated because they can't find anywhere to eat."
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Mr Bean said one thing he, and his fellow seal trip operators, had noticed was an increase in no-show bookings on seal trips, which were "worse this year than it's ever been," leading to a loss of trade for operators who could sell seats on trips "one hundred times over".
He said: "No shows are the bain of my life, we just can't believe how inconsiderate people can be.
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"Every year it's getting worse but this year is the worst."
In Brancaster, villagers who were left frustrated with their village repeatedly came to a standstill with traffic set up the Brancaster Parking and Safety Team to help alleviate parking and traffic issues.
The group, which works in partnership with the parish council, urges visitors to be respectful when parking, and ensure there is enough space for vehicles to pass.
In Happisburgh, a coastal village long beset with summer parking problems, David Mole the chairman of the parish council said the addition of the temporary car park had "worked quite well" to alleviate pressure on the village's Beach Road car park and on the village as a whole.
He said traffic flow was "difficult" because the village was "quite full this summer and traffic has been high throughout" with villagers, pedestrians and visitors having to contend with narrow roads.
"It's as busy it's always been but we all have to live with that if we live on the coast," he added.
At Mary Janes, fish and chip shop in Garden Street, Cromer, Jack Mezzetti, the takeaway and restaurant's manager said: "It's definitely busier than last year but it seems to be a bit quieter in the evenings earlier than we're used to.
"In previous years we would be busy up to 9-10 pm but it's quieter between 8-9 pm now and busier in the daytime."
Mr Mezzetti said the extra trade was "manageable" and "being so busy" would help the business to "try and get back some of the losses made when it was really quiet" even though the fish and chip shop was still not running at full capacity.
Down the street at Breakers Cafe, Martin Rodwell said the last week, which would have been the Cromer Carnival, had been "noticeably busier".
"The expectation was that it was going to be massive, Cromer was going to be absolutely crammed and that hasn't really materialised until this week."
When asked if he thought the extra trade would help the business recover from losses made during the pandemic Mr Rodwell said that was money that would "never be recovered".
"It's a fallacy for anybody to think that because you have a good time now you can recover your losses for 12-16 months, that's money we'll never recover.
"All you can do now is make as much as you possibly can and put away and just rebuild for the future," he said.
Play It Safe
The Eastern Daily Press and its sister papers, the North Norfolk News and Great Yarmouth Mercury, have launched the Play It Safe, Be Water Aware campaign to ensure visitors to Norfolk's waters stay safe.
David Powles, EDP editor, said: "Norfolk and Suffolk are blessed with some wonderful places to enjoy water, with miles and miles of stunning coastline and the beautiful Broads.
"However, in recent years there have been several signs that perhaps people are not fully aware of the dangers which can lay beneath and are not fully preparing themselves before going into the water.
"In 2020 we sadly saw several tragedies both on the coast and inland and already this summer there has been one tragic death of a young man.
"We want to spread more awareness to those looking to enjoy our waters and hope this campaign will do just that, plus encouraging shopkeepers and businesses in popular areas to display our specially designed posters."
Our Play it Safe water safety posters can be purchased at www.norfolkstore.co.uk