Tourist attractions welcome roadmap but lament Easter losses

General manager, Ben Marshall, at the entrance to the refurbished Fun Park at Wroxham Barns, which i

General manager, Ben Marshall, at the entrance to the refurbished Fun Park at Wroxham Barns, which is included in the ticket price. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The region’s visitor attractions have reacted positively to the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, but say Easter closures will be tough to swallow.

According to the roadmap, outdoor sites such as zoos and theme parks should be able to open from April 12 - a full week after the Easter break - and social contact rules will still apply. 

Gyms, pools and holiday lets will also be able to open from that date, and indoor venues should be able to follow from May 17.

Ben Marshall, Wroxham Barns general manager, said his reaction to the roadmap was mixed.

Mr Marshall said: “Overall we’re rearing to go, it has given us some dates to work towards.
“Initially we were quite disappointed because we’re unable to open for Easter for the second year in a row - we had hoped we would have been able to at least open our outdoor areas.

“We usually burn into our cash reserves over winter and that weekend is usually the first chance we get to top that up.”

Easter is an especially busy time at the farmyard attraction, with around 800 people flocking there each day to watch lambs being born.

Claudia Roberts, joint managing director of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs Africa Alive! in Suffolk and Banham Zoo in Norfolk, said: “We’re delighted that there’s now a light at the end of the tunnel. 

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“We’re a little disappointed that we lost out on the Easter weekend, because we tend to find the revenue from that helps us survive from September to February the following year.

Claudia Roberts, managing director of the Commercial, Zoological Society of East Anglia Picture: Su

Claudia Roberts, managing director of the Commercial, Zoological Society of East Anglia Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant


“But you have to look at the long-term picture, and nobody wants to go back into lockdown again.”

Andrew Barnes, managing director of the Bure Valley Railway, said they would also suffer from the loss of Easter trade but he was pleased the government was taking a cautious approach. 

Mr Barnes said: “We don’t want to do more ins and outs of lockdown because that costs money - we’d rather they take a controlled and stable approach.

“We’d like to see the government continue to offer financial support at least until businesses are up and running again. In the long term, that will benefit the economy as well.”

Mr Barnes said the earliest the heritage railway could legally reopen was April 12, but they were aiming for a later opening in May, which would still give them a clear run through the summer holidays. 

Andrew Barnes is the owner of Bure Valley Railway, and specifically requested a policy to cover the

Andrew Barnes is the owner of Bure Valley Railway, and specifically requested a policy to cover the SME in the event of an epidemic. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE



“Of course we are disappointed for our dinosaur fans, that they won’t be able to come to see us over the Easter holidays. But we are very excited with the confirmation that we will be able to open our outside spaces and welcome guests back on 12 April which has given us some good news to work with. We’ll work hard to ensure that park can re-open with all the safety guidelines in place on that day.

Adam Goymour, company director at Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade, said: “Having been closed for much of last year and since Christmas, we can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best. There’s exciting plans to announce in 2021 and this feels like we are one step closer to that.”

Outdoor spaces managed by the National Trust, including Blickling Estate’s grounds, Blakeney National Nature Reserve and Dunwich Heath and Beach in Suffolk, remain open for local visitors to access for walks. 

But a spokesman from the trust said it was still unclear when they would be able to reopen their stately homes and other indoor attractions to visitors.

The spokesman said: “We are still working through what [the roadmap] announcement means for indoor places in England, including our buildings, cafes and shops. Outdoor places we look after in England remain open for booked visits.”

Exterior of the house at Blickling Estate, Norfolk.

Blickling Estate houses many treasures. - Credit: ©National Trust/Ian Ward

Debbie Thompson, director of Sheringham Little Theatre, said she was delighted the venue would be able to start operating again, beginning with the reopening of The Hub cafe, which should be able to happen on May 17.

Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson. 

Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson. - Credit: Richard Batson/SLT

Mrs Thompson said: “It will be great because The Hub is really about friends meeting each other and when we went into Tier 2 we weren’t able to have that.”

She was also thrilled at the prospect of an end to social distancing as early as June, meaning they could once again fill the theatre for performances.

Mrs Thompson said: “We had been planning outdoor events for June and July and looking to return to the auditorium in August or September. If we can return indoors earlier than that it would be really exciting, but I think caution is key.”

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