TOURISM bosses are hoping for a record year in west Suffolk as new figures reveal more people are researching Bury St Edmunds online.

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Although last summer’s wet weather meant the amount of people visiting the town remained constant with 2011, the number of hits on the Visit Bury St Edmunds website has gone up by 20,000 to 109,000 in the last 12 months.

Sharon Fairweather, tourism officer at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said she believes the web traffic could be pointing towards a busy holiday period, while coach bookings for the Christmas Fayre are already pouring in.

Ms Fairweather said: “We didn’t break any records last year, but we certainly held our own. But the actual enquiries we are getting now are up. These are enquiries that will probably be for this year’s tourism. People are hitting the website looking into what they are going to be doing this year.”

Ms Fairweather said although she would like to think the town is heading for a record year, it would be hard to tell before Easter.

She added: “We are in a recession, so to hold our own is the main thing. To keep our events going and get well known for quality events, quality shopping, quality attractions.

“I think people are hearing about Bury more and know where we are. This is partly due to Visit East Anglia raising the profile of Suffolk as a whole, but also we are now seen as the main part of west Suffolk with Newmarket and it’s now starting to be its own destination.”

Ms Fairweather said 10,000 people a month use the Visit Bury website, staying an average of 2min 21sec.

She said that St Edmundsbury is still receiving feedback and requests after attending the Excursions travel show at Alexandra Palace, London, this January.

The council, which is promoting the street market, Christmas Fayre and Food and Drink Festival, have so far had about 40 coach bookings for December events.

Robert Everitt, tourism and community services for St Edmundsbury, said: “The borough has been investing in Bury St Edmunds for years and there are all sorts of organisations that are pushing the name of the town in a really positive way to encourage both businesses and tourists to come to Bury St Edmunds.”

Mr Everitt, who said the development of the Arc and the Apex had also helped the town become a destination, praised the work of Bid4Bury and Bury in Bloom. He added: “We are doing something right and I think it’s because we all work together.”

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