Ed Sheeran hit Castle on the Hill drives growth in enquiries for Suffolk holiday lets
PUBLISHED: 17:22 07 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:22 07 February 2017
A holiday cottage company says Suffolk superstar Ed Sheeran has delivered a boost to the county's tourism sector with his hit song and video Castle on the Hill.
Self-catering specialist cottages.com has reported a surge in searches for short breaks in Suffolk since the release of the song, which refers to the singer-songwriter’s home town of Framlingham.
Victoria Schofield, area manager for the East of England at cottages.com, said: “Our latest search figures show a staggering 25% increase in searches for Suffolk holidays since Ed’s hit song was released at the start of the year.
“Holidaymakers far and wide have been seeking out the region Ed calls home, with many stunning locations captured in the song’s music video and paid tribute to in the lyrics, including his home town of Framlingham.
“We’re delighted to see the effect the song has had in raising awareness of the area as a must-visit holiday destination for 2017.”
Tourism businesses based in Suffolk have also reported a busy start to the year.
Best of Suffolk, which manages a portfolio of 340 independently-owned properties across the county, says bookings for the summer ahead are particularly strong, although occupancy over the winter months has also been 35% up compared with a year ago.
The firm believes that the current economic and political landscape – with the pound having fallen sharply in value since the UK’s vote for Brexit, making holidays in Britain relatively better value – has contributed to the growth, along with the quality of Suffolk as a destination.
Tim Ripman, head of operations at Best of Suffolk, said: “Not only has forward sales and winter occupancy increased but our portfolio of stylish holiday cottages is expanding at an unprecedented rate.
“Suffolk is currently regarded as one of the country’s most visited counties and for good reason. The variety of coastline, market towns and rural beauty on offer, make for the perfect break, whether as a family, friends or solo.”
Best of Suffolk, which is based at Badingham, near Framlingham, and last year celebrated its 10th anniversary, says its success also represents good news for other businesses, raging from restaurants, shops and tourist attractions to “behind the scenes” service providers such as housekeepers and maintenance businesses.
Alex Tarry, director, added: “2017 is our eleventh year of trading at Best of Suffolk and I’m delighted that we’ve started the year with a continuation of our strong growth.
“Welcoming so many guests to the county this year will provide a significant stimulus to a multitude of local businesses and support the economy of the county that we all love.”
Alex Paul, sales and marketing director at Suffolk-based Gough Hotels, said that, with hotel bookings having a much shorter lead-in time compared with holiday lettings, it was harder to predict the prospects for this summer.
However, he said: “After quite a slow start to the year, in the last couple of weeks we have seen some really positive signs of customer confidence returning.”
The company’s hotels, the Angel in Bury St Edmunds and the Salthouse Harbour in Ipswich, were both doing well and Southwold Pier, also owned by the group, was becoming more of a year-round attraction, he added.