Essex: Bad weather hitting the tourism industry

THE tourism industry made heavy losses following the lengthy spell of wet weather, it is feared.

Visitor numbers for outdoor attractions in Essex are down on last year with a number of coastal businesses not expected to recoup profits for the rest of the year.

It comes after there were high hopes for a bumper summer season with major events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympics expected to encourage people to take “staycations” instead of travelling abroad.

Visit Essex said visitor numbers for outdoor activities were down by 8% in June compared to last year.

Spokeswoman Elli Constantatou said: “The weather has been extremely bad so obviously it does affect peoples’ movements especially to outdoor attractions. It’s beyond our control but it’s still very disappointing from our point of view. The worry is if people start to think about going abroad on holiday.”

Seaside attractions are among the worse hit. Clacton Pier owner Billy Ball said: “Business has been tough, there’s no doubt about it. The economy doesn’t help but we have been very well supported on the few days of good weather we have had, so it’s definitely more of a weather issue.

“I don’t think we will make up lost ground – bank holidays are so important to our industry and these have not been warm so there’s a negative impact. We have to try to cut our cloth accordingly and make sure our spend is monitored. These next two weeks will be very important to us.”

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But it is not all bad news. Indoor attractions are thriving with visitor numbers showing a 43% increase compared to this time last year.

Colchester’s Hollytrees Museum has seen a 40% hike while the Layer Marney Tower in Maldon has seen a 85% increase in people visiting the Tudor building.

Ms Constantatou said: “Historic houses and museums are definitely seeing more people coming through their doors this season and overall, if we combine both indoor and outdoor attractions, the visitor numbers are marginally up compared to last June.”