Region set for bumper summer

East Anglia's booming tourist industry is hoping to take a huge bite of the summer holiday market as more and more Britons choose to bask in the sunshine at home.

East Anglia's booming tourist industry is hoping to take a huge bite of the summer holiday market as more and more Britons choose to bask in the sunshine at home.

Unseasonably warm weather has seen tourists flock to the region for short breaks and holidays, with hotels and guest houses booked to the rafters over Easter.

And signs are bright for summer as millions are expected to opt for a quick getaway closer to home - often for sheer ease and for a lesser strain on the purse and the environment - and take advantage of the predicted scorching temperatures that rival Mediterranean hotspots.

The hassle of heading to an airport, waiting around and concerns over carbon emissions means many are shunning cheap flights overseas and are picking the UK for at least one of their holidays this year.

Yarmouth - one of the county's top holiday destinations - experienced its best Easter for years and is all set for a sizzling summer to give a shot in the arm to its £400m tourist industry.

Malcolm Bird, chair of the town's tourist authority, said: “The early signs are very encouraging, what with the positive feelings about the weather and people actually believing that we're going to have a good summer.

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“The hoteliers I have spoken to said that this was one of their best Easters for at least six years, so they are quite pleased, and the bookings they have already got for the summer are good compared with last year.

“We're trying our hardest to prepare for that as best we can and we've got to get people back to Yarmouth who for several years have gone abroad or found other accommodation.”

Meanwhile, tourism in the Norwich area is booming, attracting 8m day and 1.3m staying visitors, with recent figures from the UK Tourism Survey placing the city 22nd among UK visitor destinations - its first time in the top 25.

“Tourism businesses in the area have reported a very good Easter, the vast majority having increased visitors compared with 2006,” said Clare Packer of Visit Norwich.

“Broads Tours, based in Wroxham, and the city sightseeing bus in Norwich had an exceptionally busy weekend.

“Looking ahead, tourism, climate change and the environment could change the shape of our tourism industry in the near future.

“Britain's resorts and destinations like Norwich and Norfolk may well soon become the top choice to go for holidays with many people opting to holiday at home.

“As for green issues, if UK consumers do begin to fall out of love with flying, this provides destination management organisations like Visit Norwich with a fantastic opportunity to really sell our destination to the domestic market, pushing the 'be green - stay in England' message.”

Carolyn Moyse, chair of the North Norfolk hotel and guest houses association, said camping and caravanning in North Norfolk in particular was proving popular, with many feeling it helps them “get back to nature” for a greener holiday.

“Our members are saying that they are getting a lot of last minute bookings and were all full for Easter and most of them are covered for the May bank holiday,” she said.

“Taking a short break here is not as expensive as going away to, say, the south of France for a weekend, even with cheap flights and there is still all the waiting around in airports.”

Elliott Frisby, spokesman for Visit Britain, said the organisation had carried out research and found 30pc of people across the UK were going to be holidaying at home.

“This is about the same level as last year, and we haven't seen a major increase mainly because of the competition from overseas destinations.

“But people are taking more short breaks and hopefully the good weather we're having now will persevere, and we could have another scorching summer like 2004 and people could decided to have a holiday in this country as well, for a short break destination.

“People are now saying that they would like to spend some time in this country and spread their holidays throughout the year, rather than the traditional two-week summer holiday in the sun, and at least one of them is going to be in this country.”