Norfolk tourism bosses predict record year due to London 2012 Olympics and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations

Norfolk's �2.6 billion-per-year tourism industry could be set for the most profitable season in its history.

That was the prediction made by the county's tourism bosses today, who said the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations presented the county with an ideal opportunity to showcase its attractions to the world.

Speaking at the launch of the Norfolk Tourist Attractions' Association's 2012 brochure at Dinosaur Adventure Park, in Lenwade, NTAA chairman Peter Williamson, said: 'Norfolk is ideally suited to benefit more from the London Olympics now and in the future.

'Norfolk is just a 90-minute train journey from Olympic Village and the peaceful tranquility of the county, compared to the chaos that will be happening in London, is something that will appeal to many people both now and for years to come.

'Norfolk is the perfect Olympic and Paralympic base. Rather than stay in the London area, visitors can enjoy the historic city of Norwich, the magical waterland of the Broads, 90 miles of stunning coastline, busy seaside resorts like Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Hunstanton and the heaths and forest of the Brecks.'

Half a million copies of the brochure, promoting the county's top attractions, will be distributed to more than 3,500 outlets throughout East Anglia and many are being sent to London.

Mr Williamson said Norfolk has traditionally had high numbers of visitors from Holland, Belgium, Germany and America.

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And, to help capitalise on the global audiences flocking to England this summer, many foreign journalists have been invited to the county for press trips in recent months.

Mr Williamson said: 'The most important thing about the Olympics is its legacy. We need to make sure that people from across the world appreciate the magic of Norfolk and continue to visit for years to come. And of course the UK market is vitally important to us as well.

'If the weather is good then this could be the best year the Norfolk tourism industry has ever had.'

Lydia Smith, director of Norfolk Tourism, said the 'staycation' factor has helped Norfolk's tourism industry continue to thrive throughout the economic downturn.

She said: 'There has been a steady increase over the last 10 years and the economic crisis has meant many people have abandonned foreign holidays abroad and opted for days out and short breaks at home and Norfolk is ideal for this.

'The tourism industry has done very well here in the last couple of years, especially when you compare it to other parts of the country.

'The reasons for this are its proximity to London and the wide range of fantastic attractions that Norfolk has to offer. There are things here to suit all ages and all budgets.'

New figures from the Office for National statstics show that the number of vists made to the UK by overseas residents rose 3pc last year to the highest level since 2008.

Boosted by higher visitor numbers from North America, the amount spent by foreign visitors during their trips to the UK in 2011 rose 5pc compared with 2010.

But the number of trips UK residents made abroad in 2011 rose only 1pc.

In total, overseas residents made 30.61 million visits to the UK in 2011. This was the highest annual total since 2008 when the figure was 31.88 million. The 2009 total was 29.89 million and the 2010 figure was 29.80 million.

Last year, 3.57 million visits were by North American residents - a 5% increase on the figure for 2010.

Spending by overseas residents during their UK trips last year rose 5% to �17.76 billion, despite a slight fall in spending in December compared with December 2010.

Tourism organisation VisitBritain said the 2011 spending in the UK by overseas residents represented an annual record, with visitors spending an average of �580 per trip.

It added that the number of foreign residents coming to the UK in 2011 for holiday purposes - as opposed to those on business trips or visiting friends or relatives - was also a record, at just under 12 million.

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