Suffolk: Tourism firms carry torch for ‘Olympic effect’

TOURISM businesses in Suffolk are hoping an “Olympic effect” will ignite its summer season as the torch begins its journey through the county this week.

The torch will journey down the coast to Ipswich on Thursday and will pass through the west of the county, including Bury St Edmunds, Saturday as part of the build-up to the 2012 Games, which start on July 27.

With the spotlight falling on the county, businesses are hoping the torch relay will fire up extra interest, and that the effects will be felt even after the Games are over.

Stephen Bournes, of Southwold Pier, felt the arrival of the torch would be good for business, although during the Games themselves he anticipated visitor numbers would drop off as Britons remained glued to their TV sets watching the action.

“We are very excited about the Olympic Torch and feel that the turnout will be in the thousands,” he said. “However, as to the Olympic period, I anticipate a drop in numbers as people will watch it on TV, but the overall long term effect for the country will be good for tourism.”

Alex Paul, of holiday cottage company Suffolk Secrets said they were hoping to entice more international visitors as a result of the heightened interest the Games will generate.

“Suffolk Secrets is seeing very strong bookings for our holiday cottages this summer although it is hard to connect this directly to the Olympics,” he said.

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“We do still expect to pick up late bookings in August but I think the biggest opportunity will come through the heightened media profile Britain and indeed Suffolk could benefit from with new international visitors.”

Robert Gough, owner of the Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich and The Angel in Bury, said: “We have so much sporting activity in and around Ipswich this summer, with the Great Swim taking place in Alton Water just outside the town, the Tour of Britain starting in the town in September and sandwiched between these the London Olympics. We have lots of people starting to book rooms as we are only 50 minutes from Stratford and so much prettier and quieter than places like Heathrow and West London.”