Suffolk Coast: Business booms after Olympic Torch arrival

BUSINESS chiefs last night hailed the golden arrival of the Olympic torch along Suffolk’s coast - with bumper crowds helping to boost footfall in the high streets.

Nearly 200,000 people are thought to have welcomed the flame as it made its way from Lowestoft to Ipswich.

Towns and villages throughout Waveney and Suffolk Coastal were in celebratory mood and the goodwill appears to have extended through the doors of the many shops and retailers.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said businesses in Ipswich were almost certain to have benefited.

“There is no doubt that this many people watching the torch pass through places such as the Waterfront, St Nicholas Street and Christchurch Park will have gone onto use local pubs, restaurants and our independent stores which are the lifeblood of the local economy,” he said. “Business was delighted to take part in the occasion which brought a feel good factor to all.”

Neil Boast, town centre manager with Choose Woodbridge, said: “It was brilliant. Woodbridge was packed - I’ve never seen it like it before. I know the food outlets did very, very well out of it. There were so many people visiting the town and just seeing what we are all about. The community really came together.”

David Scrivener, senior barman at the town’s Anchor pub, said they would like to have a day similar to that every year.

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“It was a lovely day, good fun and there was a great atmosphere,” he added. “We’re a busy pub but it isn’t usually that busy.”

Bob Foyers, who runs The Bistro at the Deli in Saxmundham and is chairman of the town’s business association, said the day had been a huge success.

“Personally it was one of the best days I’ve ever seen,” he said. “There were a lot of new faces in town and it was such a great day. There was a carnival atmosphere.”

Nico de Villiers, who works at Lawson’s delicatessen in Aldebugh and is also general manger at David’s Place in the town, said: “It was definitely busier than usual. It was a fantastic day. There were lots of people about and everyone enjoyed themselves.”

Susie Medland, from Munchies restaurant and cafe, echoed his comments.

“It was fantastically busy,” she said. “The sun came out at just the right time, it was perfect.”

Guy Mitchell, chairman of Southwold and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said those businesses on the torch route seemed to do well.

“It was a mixed picture,” he said. “I think those on the route did very well, while for those away from it it was probably a little quieter. However, having said that, it was a very special day and there was a fantastic atmosphere.”`

Geoff Holdcroft, cabinet member for leisure and economic development at Suffolk Coastal District Council, praised everyone for their efforts.

“It was a day when the eyes of the world were literally on our district, with live pictures being beamed everywhere via the web and other media,” he said. “We have shown again what a welcoming and friendly district we have and it can only help attract even more visitors to enjoy our unique attractions.

Colin Law, leader of Waveney District Council, added: “It truly was the most incredible event - something we will never forget.

“I cannot recall a day in my life when so many people have come to the town centre in Lowestoft to share in one special experience – and the pictures from around the district show exactly the same joy wherever the torch went. I could not be more proud.”