‘Sunny Suffolk’ is in pole position for holidays over ‘soggy Cornwall’
Holidaymakers are showing signs of turning to 'weatherproof' Suffolk instead of 'soggy Cornwall' as Brexit fuels the region's booming staycation market, a tourism chief has said.
Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at Larking Gowen, said Suffolk may have been an 'undiscovered location' before the rise of staycations – British holidaymakers staying in the UK – triggered by the 2008 recession and now boosted by fears over Brexit and the falling pound.
It comes on the day a new VisitBritain report shows domestic overnight holidays in England rose by 7% to reach a record 20.4 million from January to July this year.
A snapshot summer survey of businesses in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex by Larking Gowen found 51% reported better trade than summer 2016 despite the poor weather. Trade was worse for 27%. Others said there was no change (15%) or did not know (7%).
Mr Scargill said: 'There is no science behind the fact that more people are now coming to Suffolk. Maybe people are giving up soggy Cornwall for a sunnier and drier Suffolk. We are certainly seeing shorter breaks.
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'For people in the home counties, they can pop here for the weekend. You don't want to haul yourself to the north or the Lake District. We are benefiting from a number of current trends and supported by business investment; that's the key. They are really stepping that up big time, such as Ipswich waterfront. Staycations have certainly benefited the UK since the recession and Brexit has created additional demand for Suffolk because (holidaymakers) haven't gone abroad.'
He said the fall in the pound had made people think twice about spending a disproportionate amount of money – and getting stuck at airports.
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He added: 'Suffolk is eclectic: lovely beaches, culture, history, a day at the races, the coast, Constable Country. People now find us, talk about us, then come back. Even though the weather in July was bad, Suffolk did incredibly well and proved it's weatherproof.
'Tourism is so important for Suffolk, and thousands rely on it.'
Amanda Bond, manager of Visit Suffolk, said: 'In 2016, Suffolk saw an increase in visitor spend of £66.7m compared to 2015, with total visits at 32.5m. We have been able to benefit through overseas promotional campaigns in the Netherlands and North America.'