Will staycations plug Suffolk's £50m gap left by lack of overseas visitors?
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Suffolk is set to lose more than £50m this year as overseas visitors are unable to enter the country.
But tourism bosses hope the current staycation boom will recoup the losses and more.
According to figures from Visit Britain, Suffolk raked in £51.8m from 146,000 overseas visitors in 2019 — the last year of uninterrupted travel.
Stansted airport is among those feeling the pinch of tightened border controls, with just 5% of the usual number of passengers flocking through the airport this month.
But in the short-term, tourism bosses hope that a spike in the number of bookings from people in the UK will tide them through.
Andy Wood, chairman of Visit East of England, said: "Losing that overseas demand in any other year would be a worry, but this year we also know people can't go abroad which gives us somewhat of a captive audience.
"We know it's going to be extremely busy with domestic demand this summer, which I suspect will make up for the shortfall in overseas travel."
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This problem affects the whole of East Anglia with Norfolk benefitting from nearly £70million spent by overseas visitors in 2019.
And Mr Wood does not think we can just expect overseas visitors to return once border restrictions are lifted.
"Norfolk and Suffolk cannot rest on their laurels and expect people to come back. Britain as a whole needs to be looking at how it can market itself globally to get those people coming back," he said.
"Tourism is competitive and it has never been more so. Visit Britain will be looking at 2022 and how we can share the fact that this country, and places like Norfolk and Suffolk, have a high quality offering, high quality service, and is safe to visit.
"Globally we also need to see the vaccine rolled out so that governments can begin to reopen boarders. It's the whole idea that no one's truly safe until we're all safe."