Region’s tourist attractions bracing themselves for fight for survival
PUBLISHED: 05:31 23 June 2020
Suffolk and Essex tourist destinations are desperate to open as they fight for survival after lockdown.
As Colchester Zoo begins to welcome customers back and more people flock to the seaside, several attractions are facing uncertain futures and shortened summer seasons – with some losing weeks worth of revenue to keep them afloat through the coming winter.
Clacton Pier boss Billy Ball is particularly concerned, having watched other businesses across the UK go bust during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the UK’s oldest mainland theme park, Wicksteed.
“Tourism is worth more than £1million a day to our district,” he said.
“We have the measures in place to allow a well managed and safe re-opening to take place and so are pleading with the government to allow our sector to open back up and save businesses and jobs.
“The current stance will already set us back years and it could be terminal if there is no light any time soon.
“We must always remember taxes from businesses paid for the NHS to help us fight this battle.
“So starving business will eventually starve the service that has saved us.”
Felixstowe Pier director Charles Manning is waiting with bated breath for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Tuesday afternoon.
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“Hopefully we will get the good news we want tomorrow,” he said.
“We want to hear if it’s safe for the social distancing to be changed to one metre because it will make reopening so much easier.
“We will still have all our safety measures and cleaning in place, but it means we can welcome twice as many people.
“All the staff here were furloughed and we managed to get the financial support that was out there from the government, that did help, but we had just come off the back of a very bad winter season.
“This is meant to be the season we take the money to see us through the next winter.
“All we can hope is our customers will keep coming later this year to make up for what they are missing out on now.”
Mr Manning had already been left perplexed by the government’s decision to delay opening over 18’s gamin centres along with non-essential retail last week, forcing him to keep his arcades closed.
He is now hoping he can open doors on July 4, believed to be the date pubs and other social venues can reopen.
He added: “All the good weather we have had has been an extra kick in the teeth as well. Our industry is at the whim of the weather.
“We will have some changes coming to the seafront from July 7 as containers for Beach Street containers start arriving, so we hope to generate some interest when work begins there.”
If you are interested in becoming a vendor in one of Beach Street’s containers or finding out more, visit their website.
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