PHOTO GALLERY: Great Yarmouth model village launches tourism brochure

It's one Norfolk village that is bucking the economic downturn with massive regeneration going on and an influx of newcomers moving into executive homes.

But if you are contemplating joining them in this Utopian community, which is even seeing a new church and luxury yacht club being built, be warned...residents have to be five inches tall.

Merrivale Model Village on Great Yarmouth seafront yesterday marked the start of its 50th anniversary year by hosting the launch of the Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association (NTAA) 2011 brochure.

Village owner and NTTA chairman Peter Williamson was joined by Norfolk Tourism director Lydia Smith and Yarmouth tourism marketing manager Kirsty Burn for the event, which they hope will herald a boom year.

About 500,000 NTAA brochures – containing details of nearly 50 attractions and �150 worth of discount vouchers – will be distributed to more than 3,500 outlets across the east of England.

Mr Williamson said: 'People rediscovered Norfolk last year and they love what it is about, whether it is the razzmatazz of Yarmouth or the quiet of north Norfolk.

'And without the worry of airport queues, volcanic dust clouds and poor exchange rate we are confident of another successful season.'

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Ms Smith said the brochure, and the www. website, put NTTA at the forefront of the county's tourism industry. Mrs Burn said early signs were very promising with the Yarmouth tourism website achieving double the hits compared with this time last year, and a remarkable number of families already booking long-stay holidays.

Mr Williamson, who has invested �500,000 in the village since he and his wife Shirley took it over seven years ago, said: 'In that time we have seen our annual visitor numbers increase from 18,000 to 48,500, and last September we had our record day with 3,223 visitors coming in.

'We get day visitors coming from as far afield as Cambridge and Felixstowe, and some regulars who have been coming since the village opened in 1961.'

Mr Williamson, who is only the third owner of the attraction, said they would be celebrating Merrivale's 50th anniversary on Mothering Sunday, April 3, by offering admission for 50p – 1p for every year of Merrivale. There would be no vouchers and visitors could just turn up on the day.

New attractions for this season, which will be ready for opening on March 26, include St Merrivale's Church, Uncle Stein's Big Top Circus, Bogit and Sons Executive Close and the Royal Yacht Club – there will also be 200 new 'Merrivalians'.