Suffolk/ Norfolk: Tourism firms to be surveyed on impact of shorter school summer holidays

Chris Scargill of Larking Gowen.

Chris Scargill of Larking Gowen. - Credit: Colin Finch

Tourism businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk are to be surveyed on their views about the impact a shorter schools’ summer holiday would have on the region’s £4.2billion visitor economy.

In the latest quarterly business confidence monitor conducted by chartered accountants Larking Gowen for Visit Suffolk and Visit Norfolk, tourism operators will be asked whether a switch from a six-week to a four-week summer break – a possible consequence of the Government’s Deregulation Bill – will adversely affect the tourism sector

They are also asked whether it will change their pricing policy, with fears that prices could be driven higher.

The Deregulation Bill, to be discussed in the House of Lords later this month, would give schools across England the freedom to dictate the shape of their academic year.

The bill has been championed by former education secretary Michael Gove who wants to reduce summer holidays from six to four weeks and claims the education system is being handicapped by what he describes as a 19th Century timetable.


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However, many seaside traders have said more than 50% of their turnover comes during the six weeks and to lose two summer weeks would have a severe impact on the tourism economy.

Chris Scargill, Larking Gowen’s tourism and leisure partner, said: “We will be looking to release data from the survey concerning the school holidays issue before the bill is debated at the end of the month.”

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Martin Dupee, operations director at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive, said it would be fascinating to gauge the general view as the potential impact of the bill was still not widely known.

“There are even some MPs who are not aware of the impact if the legislation goes through,” he said.

Mr Dupee said their parks did not raise prices during the school holidays but he was convinced holidaymakers would end up paying more during a reduced four-week summer holiday because of simple market forces.

“There will be capacity issues in hotels and holiday parks. It will be the same as people having to pay more on rush-hour trains,” he said.

The survey will also assess how good the summer has been, up to the end of September, for tourism businesses in terms of visitor number and other factors such as discretionary spend.

Mr Scargill added: “Anecdotally we have heard that many businesses both in the retail side and the accommodation and attraction providers have had a decent summer.

“ Confidence for many seems to be high and we are already starting to see forward bookings both for the autumn period and also some bookings for 2015.”

To take part in the survey visit www.tourismsurveys.co.uk/bcm/

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