Suffolk targets American visitors

SUFFOLK tourism bosses are continuing to target big-spending American visitors as new national figures reveal they are visiting the country in increasing numbers.

SUFFOLK tourism bosses are continuing to target big-spending American visitors as new national figures reveal they are visiting the country in increasing numbers.

Visits by North Americans in the first half of this year rose 9% to 2.12million, while western European numbers went up 6% to 9.8million, the Office for National Statistics said.

The UK welcomed 14.87million tourists in January to June 2006 compared with the same period last year. The half-year rise came despite a slight dip in tourist numbers in June 2006.

The amount spent by foreign visitors during their trips to the UK rose 6% to £6.6billion in the first half of this year.

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The ONS also announced that UK residents made 31.5million trips overseas in the first six months of this year - a 4% increase on the January to June 2005 total.

Scott Dolling, destination marketing manager at the Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said the US tourist market was one they were hoping to attract to the county in greater numbers.

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“Visitors from the US provide some of the most lucrative business for the tourist economy. Operators we deal with estimate £115 per day in the average spend by a guest from the US. This compares with domestic visitors who are on average likely to spend £60 in the local economy,” he said.

“Tourism is a significant sector for Suffolk with over £1billion adding to the local economy. This includes spend in local shops, pubs and the wider economy, not just at tourism businesses.”

Suffolk is working closely with other partners in the region, particularly Norfolk, to attract US visitors, and is linking the drive with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. Its links to Otley Hall and wider Suffolk are being commemorated.

A Gosnold trail has been produced by the Suffolk Development Agency's Suffolk Tourism Partnership, charting the Suffolk roots of the captain of the ship which carried the original English settlers, which is set to be promoted overseas. Next month, information is due to be sent to the US travel trade on Suffolk's links with the US market, said Mr Dolling.

* A new DVD is set to be launched later this year, along with video footage of local attractions for a tourism website, to give potential visitors a taste of what Suffolk has to offer.

Local company Lateral Media is piloting the idea, which may be used more widely across the country, to complement the Choose Suffolk tourism brochure.

Already, Newmarket, the home of horseracing, has been filmed, and over the coming weeks, other destinations, attractions and themes will also be captured for the promotion.

“Recent research told us that visitors want both the traditional brochure to flick through but are also keen for more technology to inform them about their destination,” said Mr Dolling.

“The difference that movement and sound can make is phenomenal and we are working with our partners across the county to ensure that there is a great spread of not just locations but also themes as well.

“The evocative images of Newmarket - the home of horseracing really - engenders a feeling of 'must be there', something that is not so achievable with traditional brochures.”

Mel Evans, creative director at Lateral Media said it was keen to get Suffolk on the map.

“Lateral Media invested in some high definition video equipment last year and already we have undertaken some significant destination video work overseas,” he said.

“Combining this with out website technology, Suffolk will end up with a very strong opportunity to promote itself. Being a Suffolk company, we are keen to add as much into this project as we can, and are proud to be taking the initiative forward.”

To support the project financially, firms in Suffolk will be approached to advertise on the DVD. Those taking part will then get video of their business which can be used on their own websites.

For more information, contact Mel Evans on 01638 722370 or email

*Jim Brown has joined the Suffolk Tourism Partnership as its sustainable tourism project officer.

Mr Brown, who was previously employed at the East of England Tourist Board, will build upon recent work aimed at making Suffolk the leading sustainable tourism destination in the eastern region.

The drive involves encouraging businesses to adopt positive environmental business practices, encourage visitors to respect and enjoy the environment they are visiting, and raising awareness of the role and benefits of tourism to residents.

“I'm really looking forward to working on a range of sustainable tourism initiatives with both businesses and organisations in order to raise the profile of Suffolk and its green credentials,” he said.

Mr Dolling said that with environmental concerns increasingly in consumers' minds, it was “crucial” that Suffolk delivered for this “important growing market”.

“Jim is continuing the good work already started by keeping our tourism businesses in touch with local suppliers and informed about what they can do to reduce their impacts on the environment and improve their business performance at the same time,” he said.

A range of products are being developed for visitors so they can make more informed choices and can easily see information on local food and public transport.

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