East Anglia: Counties are ‘cool’, tourism leaders are told

THE “cool” factor could help develop the East Anglian “brand” and promote Suffolk and Norfolk as a tourist destination, major players in the sector have been told.

More than 200 entrepreneurs and professionals from the tourism sector gathered at Ipswich Waterfront’s DanceEast theatre to take part in Visit East Anglia’s Conference 2012 as the private sector-led organisation celebrated its first year.

A series of speakers, including Andy Wood, chief executive of Southwold brewer Adnams and chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said that, with its beaches, heritage and other assets, the region had the potential to market itself as a “cool” place to go.

“We are talking about the brands of Suffolk and of Norfolk and they can be really cool and we really need to believe in ourselves around that,” he said.

“I really do believe we have got the potential to have one of the coolest brands, if not the coolest, in the UK.”

The Adnams brand itself has just scooped its own “cool” accolade after it was officially named as a “CoolBrand” in an influential annual listing based on the views of consumers, style experts and personalities from the media, fashion and music industries.

The tourism sector could play “an enormous part” in helping the economy, added Dr Wood. “It’s clear that the economic recovery is going to be private sector led – there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

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“Quite frankly you people here today represent one of the most important sectors, not only in Norfolk and Suffolk but also in the whole of the UK.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer told businesses that they needed to get behind Visit East Anglia, and support efforts to market the counties over the next two or three years.

“Business people have got to make this work in the next year or if they don’t make it work, local authorities will have to find a different way of doing it,” he said.

Suffolk needed to be “more brazen” about its assets, he added.

“I don’t think we are bold and vulgar enough about talking about them,” he said. “We are really lucky.

“We don’t have to create a brand for ourselves. We have already got a very cool, edgy brand for those who know Suffolk.”