Tourists turn to inland Suffolk as coast books up
Some holidaymakers are opting for an inland vacation as the coast is booked up - boosting market towns like Bury St Edmunds.
The historic west Suffolk town is seeing hotels at 90% plus occupancy for the summer, and the majority of self-catering options are booked up until the autumn, according to the tourism group Bury St Edmunds and Beyond.
Sue Warren, brand and marketing manager for Bury and Beyond, said: "We are known for our short breaks and we are beginning to see people staying for longer, five nights or so, and using Bury as a base to explore other parts of Suffolk as well.
"People are finding accommodation is booked up on the coast and are coming inland and they can still explore the coast and Cambridge and Ipswich and other places."
She said some Bury holiday accommodation is seeing autumn bookings and Christmas bookings coming through as well.
There is plenty to entice travellers to Bury St Edmunds, which regularly features in national media as a top place to visit for its mix of heritage, quality food and drink, shopping and events.
The Moments modern art exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum has been an added draw this summer, and has just reached the milestone of more than 10,000 tickets sold.
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Mark Cordell, chief executive of the the town's Business Improvement District (BID), said the BID and West Suffolk Council had tried to ensure there is something happening most Sundays in the town from May to autumn, such as the council's 'makers markets'.
The major food and drink festival, run by the BID, is also taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, August 29 and 30, and will feature characters from the hit kids' TV show PAW Patrol.
Mr Cordell felt the abundance of outdoor dining was a particular attraction in the town.
"I think there's people who are perhaps a bit reticent about dining inside. There are lots of options for dining outside and when it's sunny that's another positive."
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He said the footfall figures for the town centre were "encouraging," revealing an increase of about 7% for the week beginning July 19 compared to the same, pre-pandemic week in 2019.
Sue said we must bear in mind that while things are picking up for tourism businesses "it's still challenging" due to Covid, Brexit and lost periods of trading due to the pandemic.