Suffolk tourism set for boom in 2015

Southwold from the harbour wall

Southwold from the harbour wall - Credit:

Following a successful 2014, Suffolk’s tourism bosses are predicting an even better year in 2015.

Bury Cathedral viewed from the Abbey Gardens

Bury Cathedral viewed from the Abbey Gardens - Credit: Archant

The predictions come after holiday lettings agency Best of Suffolk reported an increase of 35% in advance bookings for holiday cottage accommodation next year.

This compares with advance bookings taken this time last year for 2014, with the tourism ‘hot spots’, including Aldeburgh, Southwold on the east of the county, along with Bury St Edmunds and the historic ‘wool towns’ to the west.

Naomi Tarry, co-founder of Best of Suffolk, said: “One of our key goals is to achieve the highest occupancy figures possible for our property owners, so this is very good news.

“But it’s also good news for tourism-related businesses in Suffolk – higher occupancy rates means more visitors to our county’s wonderful independent restaurants, shops and tourist attractions.”

However, as hoteliers don’t take bookings as far in advance, they don’t have the same figures, but Alex Paul, director of sales and marketing at Gough Hotels, is confident about next year.

Mr Paul said: “It’s very hard to give predictions because we don’t have that advanced booking relationship, but in Christmas and into January, it’s looking extremely packed.

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“We’re certainly confident about next year, we’ve come off a very strong last quarter in 2014 and expect that to continue.

“The pier in Southwold at this time of year is very quiet, but we’re confident for a good year.

“We keep improving our product to increase the customer experience. We’re doing more with the pier shops and the catering, doing more for the customer.”

The director of sales and marketing at the hotelier, which runs not only the Southwold Pier but The Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich and the Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, said bookings are “looking positive for next year”, and added: “The pier certainly has been as good in 2014 as 2013, which was a very good year.”

The company are also bringing in new leisure packages, which are proving popular.

Mr Paul said: “It’s combining luxury stays with excellent food and drink. It’s a top-end package.”

And Mr Paul believed it was a sign of a recovering economy that the more expensive packages were doing well: “There’s a willingness to spend a bit more, but we have still got to have a very good product.”

Amanda Bond, at Visit Suffolk, said: “This year, between January and August, the East of England region has the highest tourism expenditure in the country, up 24.6% year on year. We would expect this to continue into 2015, with many businesses citing huge percentage increases, especially in the self-catering market.”