The inclusion of an idyllic coastal image from the Suffolk coast in a major UK tourism report has been widely welcomed – despite a popular local attraction having been almost edited out of view.

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Visit England’s latest report Domestic Leisure Tourism Trends for the Next Decade features prominently on its cover page a postcard perfect picture of Southwold on a beautiful summer’s day. On closer inspection, however, eagle-eyed residents noticed that the photograph, despite its beauty, is not technically accurate.

“It has the pier at the wrong end of town and it seems to be a bit shorter than in real life,” said John Perkins, secretary of the Southwold and Reydon Society. “This is probably down to a bit of artistic licence and some digital trickery.”

Despite the alteration, Mr Perkins felt Southwold should be “proud” to be chosen as an iconic seaside resort.

“It’s a tremendous tribute to all the people who work in tourist industry which attracts thousands of visitors to the town every year,” he said.

Southwold Mayor Simon Tobin was also prepared to overlook the alteration in light of the positive publicity. “We are absolutely delighted to be featured in such a prestigious publication and we welcome tourists from the UK and abroad with open arms,” he said.

Not even the pier seemed to mind having been shrunk in size.

“Did they doctor the image? Perhaps, but we all have to work hard to make the tourism offer as compelling as possible – Visit England is no different and Southwold Pier is no different so in 2014 we will continue to improve the visitor experience with new features and offers,” a spokesman said.

Visit England said it had selected Southwold as a “fantastic” place and explained the alteration was probably to do with design issues.

“It’s a very iconic image which we think sums up tourism in England,” said a spokesman.

Mr Perkins believes the decision was taken so the pier could be displayed alongside sandy beaches, rather than the wooden groynes.