Tourism chief hails ‘seismic shift’ in outsiders’ views of East Anglia as bookings soar
- Credit: Archant
East Anglian tourism has finally 'got its act together' and is now reaping the rewards, according to an industry leader.
Hoseasons managing director Simon Altham said investment in better transport links such as the A11, upgraded broadband, higher-quality accommodation and new attractions had sparked a 'seismic shift' in the way the region is seen nationally.
His optimistic assessment came as the Lowestoft-based company announced its best January on record, with UK bookings up 15pc year on year.
The East of England proved one of the standout regions with an increase of 17pc, while bookings for boating breaks on the Broads rose 20pc during the same period.
Mr Altham said: 'There's no one-dimensional reason for this: we are doing great because of a long-term trend and also because Norfolk has very much got its act together, whether it be roads or businesses.
You may also want to watch:
'It's phenomenal and suggests that we are a destination county.
'There has been so much investment by holiday operators in Norfolk and Suffolk to improve accommodation and invest in facilities. That's now starting to reap rewards.'
- 1 'We haven't slept': Primark shoppers queue outside city store from 3am
- 2 Couple sell 'amazing' converted water mill after two-year renovation
- 3 People queue at Norwich Primark an hour before 7am reopening
- 4 Hospital's walk-in vaccine clinic suspended after poor attendance
- 5 Streets of Norwich packed as lockdown rules ease
- 6 Lanes closed after lorry hits A47 central reservation
- 7 Months of resurfacing work on Norfolk's roads to start
- 8 Woman found dead in country park is named
- 9 Eight pints pulled in first three minutes as pub's 'happy hour' returns
- 10 Boss unhappy over fake worker's 'vile' comments about Prince Philip
Mr Altham said the dualled A11 had cut journey times by up to an hour in peak periods, while a new mobile-responsive website and early-year offers had contributed to a surge in popularity of short breaks.
With a major customer base in the Midlands, and the Norwich Northern Distributor Road on the way, pushing on with improvements to the A47 was the next infrastructure priority, he added.
Other travel operators such as as Easyjet and Thomas Cook owner TUI have reported falling bookings as a result of terrorist attacks in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia, but Mr Altham said he believed those customers were opting for 'safer' overseas destinations rather than East Anglia.
Mr Altham's view of the region's progress was echoed by Chris Scargill, partner at Larking Gowen, who said he expected the value of tourism to Norfolk's economy to top £3bn in 2016.
'The perception is that it's easier to access, and perception becomes reality when people visit,' he said, adding that holiday-makers were booking earlier to avoid missing out.
'We've seen businesses continually investing in what they have on offer and as a result there's something different all the time.'
Are you making an investment? Email firstname.lastname@example.org