Region targets US tourism boost

TEN of America's most prominent travel correspondents have been welcomed to the East of England this week as part of a drive to attract foreign tourists to Britain.

TEN of America's most prominent travel correspondents have been welcomed to the East of England this week as part of a drive to attract foreign tourists to Britain.

VisitBritain has invited 70 of the world's most influential travel writers and broadcasters from 31 countries to promote Britain as a tourist destination and to encourage people to come here in spite of the global downturn.

The global media tour is promoting Britain's new and value-for-money attractions, and its easy accessibility for short breaks.

Tourism chiefs are hoping that a favourable exchange rate and cheap flights and accommodation will help to reverse a 13% drop in foreign tourist numbers this year.

As part of the national initiative, the East of England Tourism welcomed 10 American journalists to the region on Saturday, June 12, when they arrived in Norwich for a five-day intensive tour.

The group spent time in north Norfolk on Saturday, before travelling on to Cambridge where they enjoyed punting on the river and an exploration of the city. They visited Bury St Edmunds and Lavenham yesterday and were due to move on to Constable country before flying back to the US.

Most Read

The journalists will have an intensive five-day tour through the region - starting in Norwich on Friday 12th June, spending time in North Norfolk on the 13th, and then on to Cambridge for punting and exploring the city before travelling to Bury St Edmunds and Lavenham on the 15th June and finishing in Constable country before they fly back to the US.

Janice Kent, public relations manager for East of England Tourism, said the prestigious visit and the following coverage back in the United States was sure to encourage more visitors to the region.

“This visit to the East of England will show the journalists some of the most beautiful parts of the region, from the beaches of the north Norfolk coast, the history and heritage of our famous cities Cambridge and Norwich plus the areas of outstanding natural beauty of Suffolk and Essex. We will show them how easy it is to use the train to get out of London and discover the delights of the region,” she said.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said the economic downturn was affecting global travel, and had resulted in a 13% fall in inbound tourism visits in the first quarter of 2009.

“With the industry offering great value flights and accommodation deals, the global media tour will help businesses through a challenging year ahead and draw potential visitors' attention to all that Britain offers for a holiday,” she said.

“The trips will also remind consumers that Britain has never been more affordable for them to travel right now as a weaker pound means great exchange rates.”

Tourism is worth around �5.3billion a year to the East of England's economy and employs 185,000 people. With 13 million staying visits, the region, made up of Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, is fifth in the league of the nine English regions for staying visits. In percentage terms, Norfolk has a 25% share, followed by Essex (21%), Cambridgeshire (18%), Suffolk (14%), Hertfordshire (13%) and Bedfordshire (8%). Norfolk receives the highest volume and value of domestic visitors, while Cambridgeshire tops the table in terms of overseas visits and spend.