Why Suffolk could soon become a big draw for visitors from across the pond
PUBLISHED: 16:30 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:38 12 February 2019
Suffolk’s picturesque towns and villages are already firmly established on the tourist map for British visitors. But after Brexit, could the Yanks also be enticed to flock to the county?
The US already represents the largest inbound visitor market for Britain. But at present, 67% of American visitors spend their holiday in London, and only 33% venture elsewhere in England.
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In 2016 the total number of American visitors to our region was 60,000 - contributing £39.78 million to the local economy. The average stay was six nights and the average visitor spend, £668.
In order to lure in more US tourists, businesses in Bury Saint Edmunds are being invited to attend a training programme designed to help regional tourism businesses more attractive to the Americans.
Visit Cambridge & Beyond (VCB), the official tourism service for Cambridge and the surrounding areas, is inviting Bury businesses to attend a training programme at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge next month.
The training event is part of a national drive to help tourism businesses capitalise on this lucrative market.
“Cambridge and Bury Saint Edmunds are rich in American history and a magnet for US visitors,” said Emma Thornton, chief executive of VCB. “The Welcome Training Programme will specifically focus on the England Originals project, providing attendees with essential information on the US millennials market and how businesses can work with the international travel trade.”
VCB has benefitted from £20,000 of ‘cash-match’ funding from partners Cambridge BID and the Combined Authority to help take the US project forward locally.
Dan Thorp, assistant director for the Combined Authority, claims that since 2010, tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms. “One of our key ambitions is to double the size of the local economy in a way that is more inclusive across the county, and we’re therefore delighted to support VCB in delivering the England Originals project, to help maximise the value of inbound tourism to Cambridge and our surrounding market towns,” he said.
The Welcome Training Programme will take place from 9.30am-1pm on Monday March 4 and will be delivered by travel and hospitality skills training company, Capela Training. It is open to all businesses, at a cost of £50 per person.
Parts of Bury Saint Edmunds that American tourists are drawn to
Bury St Edmunds explorer and lawyer Bartholomew Gosnold founded the first permanent English settlement in America. His legacy - Jamestown in Virginia - led him to become one of the world’s most renowned travellers.
Visitors to Bury St Edmunds can see a permanent reminder of Gosnold’s adventures in the Refectory garden of St Edmundsbury Cathedral where a piece of art which depicts Gosnold’s ship, the Godspeed, by artist Jonathan Clarke.
John Winthrop was an English Puritan lawyer, educated in Bury St Edmunds, and one of the leading figures in founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the second major settlement in New England. His son, also John Winthrop, was the chief founder of Agawam, now Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1633. Educated at Bury St Edmunds Grammar School now King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, in 1631, he followed his father to Massachusetts Bay and was one of the “assistants” of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There is a memorial stained glass window dedicated to him at St Barthlomew’s Church, Groton.
Rougham Control Tower Museum in Bury Saint Edmunds is dedicated to the American Airmen and women who served in the 322nd Bomb Group and the 94th Bomb Group of the ‘The Mighty Eighth’ during the Second World War.