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2019 was bumper year for Bury St Edmunds tourism ‘but autumn/winter will be challenging’

PUBLISHED: 11:45 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 18 September 2020

The Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds is a popular tourist attraction Picture: MARK LANGFORD

The Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds is a popular tourist attraction Picture: MARK LANGFORD

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The value of tourism to the Bury St Edmunds economy grew by £2.2million last year, latest figures have revealed - but 2020 has been one of the worst for the sector.

A beach in Bury St Edmunds as part of the Whitsun Fayre in the Suffolk market town last year Picture: NEIL DIDSBURYA beach in Bury St Edmunds as part of the Whitsun Fayre in the Suffolk market town last year Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

Tourism’s boost to the local economy rose to a new high of £53.6m, up 4.2% on 2018, according to independent research carried out by Destination Research and commissioned annually by West Suffolk Council.

All up were the number of trips involving overnight stays (to 73,000), the total visitor spend (to £41,044,000), and the amount visitors spend on stays and day trips (to £15,406,000 and £23,877,000 respectively).

Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, the official tourism brand for the Bury St Edmunds area, has itself seen a rise of 264% in the number of visitors to the official tourism website from 139,737 to 508,145 thanks to regional and national marketing.

MORE: Work set to begin on £8.4m Bury St Edmunds post office redevelopment

In addition, the value of tourism to the local economy has risen by £6.3million since Bury St Edmunds and Beyond launched in 2017.

Sue Warren, brand and marketing manager for Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, said: “We are delighted with the results of last year’s tourism figures for Bury St Edmunds. It is a key aim of Bury St Edmunds and Beyond to grow overnight stays and importantly grow the visitor spend in the town and the value of tourism to the local economy.

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“Although we had one of our best year’s ever last year, 2020 has been one of the worst for tourism.

“We had a bumper summer season here in the Bury St Edmunds area once lockdown was lifted. However, it doesn’t make up for the four or five months that our businesses were closed and I’m afraid the autumn and winter will be very challenging for all businesses, especially tourism.”

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Melanie Lesser, chairwoman of Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, said: “Last year’s bumper year for tourism absolutely proves that the funding for marketing the town as a visitor destination is critical to growth of the visitor economy and in turn the local economy.

“I would like to thank our funders West Suffolk Council, Bury St Edmunds Town Council, the Our Bury St Edmunds BID [Business Improvement District], St Edmundsbury Cathedral and Gough Hotels for their financial support.”

Bury St Edmunds and Beyond has just launched a new autumn/winter digital marketing campaign ‘Uniquely Bury St Edmunds’, which will use a mixture of social media, Google advertising, content marketing and PR to drive visitors to the official tourism website for the area.

It will concentrate on those autumn and winter activities that are unique to the town and encourage bookings for autumn, winter and early bookings for spring.

Bury St Edmunds and Beyond is also participating in the UK government-backed joint Norfolk and Suffolk ‘Unexplored England’ campaign. The £500,000 marketing campaign to extend the holiday season safely in Norfolk and Suffolk has seen every destination marketing organisation (DMO) in the two counties work together with Visit East of England, Visit Suffolk and Visit Norfolk.


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