Suffolk: Major new tourism campaign hopes to boost economy

ONE of the biggest ever campaigns to promote Suffolk as a major tourist destination is set to be unveiled early next year – in the hope of boosting what is already a �1.75billion industry.

In the wake of new figures which show visitor numbers and spending are increasing, it is understood the county, district and borough councils of Suffolk are set to join forces to market the county’s tourism gems even further.

It has emerged talks have taken place between the authorities, which want to boost an industry already employing around 34,000 people.

Keith Brown, chief executive of Visit East Anglia, said: “Just as Suffolk tourism businesses are investing in quality then so are we at Visit East Anglia stepping up our game.

“With a unique combination of heritage, culture, beautiful countryside, coastline and wonderful local and drink, there is no reason why Suffolk could not become one of the most successful tourism areas in the country.”

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He reiterated the huge opportunities available to business in 2012 and said: “Despite the very real effect of the economic downturn on all parts of the economy, once again we can see that tourism, the jewel in the crown of Suffolk business, has grown.

“The challenge will now be as we enter 2012 is to make sure that we make the most of the opportunities ahead.”

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Visitors to Suffolk increased their spending by more than �2 a head in 2010. Despite the economic challenges for the economy, the ‘staycation’ remained above pre-recession levels.

The Economic Impact of Tourism in Suffolk report also revealed that in 2009, the average visitor spend in Suffolk was �45.20. In 2010, the most recent figures available, it rose to �47.80.

There was a 4% increase in visitors to the county with a 3% increase in entry charges to Suffolk attractions.

But Mr Brown, who has been meeting with representatives of tourism bodies across the county, did add a warning ahead of the new year.

“At a time of change for the management of tourism in our county, we should be encouraged that we have seen continued growth. But we all have to work together to continue to provide quality offers that will bring even more people to Suffolk.”

The growth of tourism in Suffolk is lower than other areas of the UK, but the new campaign will aim to address that.

Mr Brown added. “We are focused on working with tourism providers, large and small to ensure we make the very most of 2012 and the opportunities it brings.

“Next year will see once in a lifetime events such as the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics and the Diamond Jubilee. The Olympic Torch will visit the county and once again we will host the Great East Swim. These are fantastic opportunities for business and we have to make the most out of them to bring visitors to our borders.”

Visit East Anglia is working with Suffolk County Council with a view to an announcement early in 2012 of a new partnership to champion the role of destinations.

Mr Brown said: “We have to remember the importance of why people come here. We have beautiful beaches, glorious countryside and historic market towns that people want to visit.

“Therefore we hope to make an announcement soon which could mean for the first time, we have one clear voice, championing tourism and bringing more and more people to the county than ever before.

“Over the last few months we have been working hard with colleagues from district councils and Suffolk County Council to have a real joined up approach to our tourism.”

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