THE controversy around the “curious county” tourism campaign aimed at attracting new visitors to Suffolk hasn’t stopped a hotel boss from adopting a similar slogan for his own promotional drive.

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Visit Suffolk’s “curious county” social media advertising campaign, which is due to be launched in February, caused a stir after it was previewed at a Visit East Anglia tourism conference this year, with critics panning the concept.

By coincidence, Robert Gough, who owns the Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds and the Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich, has been running a campaign using the “curious” slogan to promote one of his own businesses and says he is “very pleased” with it.

Mr Gough sits on the Visit East Anglia board but says his own promotion was devised independently and was one of several campaigns aimed at setting his hotels apart from “bog-standard” establishments and making them stand out from the crowd.

Mr Gough wasn’t at the board meeting which unanimously agreed the “curious county” campaign but he says he supports it.

His own slogan, about the Angel Hotel, advertises it as “a curious new place to meet”, and came from a different PR firm to the one used in the Visit Suffolk campaign.

“It’s coincidence,” he said. “I use an entirely different marketing company in Hertfordshire and I think the two campaigns happened to come up at the same time.

“I understand ‘curious county’ is going very well and it’s extremely well supported,” he added. “This is not a new way of viewing Suffolk and that’s where there has been some misunderstanding.”

As far as his own “curious” campaign goes, Mr Gough said it was “too early” to gauge the effects, but feedback had been positive.

Visit East Anglia chief executive Keith Brown said the “curious county” campaign was well supported by tourism businesses and remained on schedule for launch in February.

“The unanimous decision was made by Suffolk board members as, out of the three agencies who presented, Condiment were by far the strongest,” he said. “Robert has competing hoteliers on our board and they would certainly not have approved a concept that favoured the competition.

“The word itself of course is not unique and is used widely by other tourism businesses including the Natural History Museum amongst others,” he said.

“The design and the coupling of it with the word ‘county’ is unique and I don’t believe there is any problem with an individual businesses using the word at all.

“Indeed we would encourage as many businesses as possible to use the theme nearer to the launch,” added Mr Brown.

Among the organisations to have signed up to the “curious county” campaign so far are Adnams, Africa Alive, Aldeburgh Music, Go Ape, Living Architecture, Kesgrave Hall, the Ickworth Hotel, Suffolk Coastal, White Lion Hotel, The Swan at Lavenham, Snape Maltings, Suffolk Secrets, Latitude, The Crown at Woodbridge, Bruisyard Hall, the RSPB and Dance East.

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