East Anglia: Survey confirms how summer sun helped tourism firms beat expectations

Chris Scargill of Larking Gowen.

Chris Scargill of Larking Gowen. - Credit: Colin Finch

A new business survey has confirmed that the sun shone brightly on the tourism industry across East Anglia this summer.

The latest quarterly Tourism Confidence Monitor, prepared by chartered accountants Larking Gowen on behalf of Visit Suffolk and Visit Norfolk, has revealed that visitor numbers over the season exceeded industry expectations.

At the time of the June survey, a cautious 42% of businesses in Norfolk and 52% in Suffolk predicted an increase in visitors on last year.

However, the new monitor ? to be published in full next week ? reveals that 52% of Norfolk businesses and an even stronger figure of 60% in Suffolk surpassed last summer’s visitor numbers.

With the study being open to all tourism businesses across East Anglia, hundreds of firms were surveyed for the monitor which was introduced earlier this year as an addition to the annual tourism business survey compiled by Larking Gowen for nearly a decade.

Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at Larking Gowen, said: “Anecdotally we have heard good news from a number of businesses this year, but the survey results, which cover the months of July, August and September, show a real positive boost for the majority of tourism businesses seeing increased visitor numbers compared to the same period last year.”

However, he cautioned that the warm weather had not been good news for everyone with some businesses favoured by indifferent weather, such as indoor attractions, having seen visitor numbers fall.

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Mr Scargill added that the results also reflected the fact that the general economic climate was improving and consumer confidence was returning. “We have started to see in a substantial number of businesses, but again not all, an increase in the discretionary spend of those visiting,” he said.

Keith Brown, chief executive of Visit East Anglia, said: “Despite a poor start to the year, that was notable by its extended cold and wet periods, our latest confidence monitors highlight that 2013 could turn out to be one of our busiest years ever.

“Looking forward, the tourism sector faces opportunities and threats in equal measure such as the positive impact of the A11 widening and the longer term potential negative impact on visitors of tolling of the A14.”

Amanda Bond, brand manager for Visit Suffolk, said it was encouraging to see the positive benefits of the good weather.

Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, added: “The results of the latest monitor are very encouraging news. With the national economy picking up, there is now a great opportunity to capitalise on, if not quite the ‘feel good’ factor, then certainly a ‘feeling better’ sensation.”

For full details of the latest Tourism Confidence Monitor survey, see the BusinessEast supplement in next Tuesday’s EADT.