More tourists flock to East Anglia
MORE overseas tourists are flocking to East Anglia than ever before, with new figures showing visitor numbers soared by an extra 160,000 last year.As Suffolk and Essex gears up for one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year, data produced by the Office of National Statistics shows 1.
MORE overseas tourists are flocking to East Anglia than ever before, with new figures showing visitor numbers soared by an extra 160,000 last year.
As Suffolk and Essex gears up for one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year, data produced by the Office of National Statistics shows 1.93million overseas visitors ventured to the East of England last year compared to 1.77million in 2003.
In Suffolk, the number of overseas visitors increased from 190,000 in 2003 to 210,000 last year – overtaking Norfolk, which saw 190,000 visitors during the last 12 months.
Meanwhile, Essex saw visitors' numbers soar from 500,000 in 2003 to 570,000 in 2004.
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As visitors to the region rocketed last year, so too did tourism spending and the East of England generated a massive £608m last year – up from £592m in 2003.
Suffolk's proportion of the cash represented £57m while Essex accounted for £126m.
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Tess Wright, managing director of the East of England Tourist Board, said: “We are very pleased to see a 9% increase in overseas trips in 2004.
“Although only 10% of our visitors overall are from overseas, they are very valuable because they spend up to three times more than UK visitors.
“Our overseas marketing partnership is focusing particularly on European markets and this evidence that the approach is working is very pleasing.”
Robert Gough, chairman of the Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said: “The Suffolk Development Agency's Suffolk Tourism Partnership is aiming to increase the value of tourism for the Suffolk economy.
“By building our destination as a high quality short breaks location we aim to help spread the business throughout the year and build tourism in a sustainable form.
“We have been working closely with partners in the region to promote Suffolk to the European market and these figures are both positive and welcomed by the partnership.”
Nationally, 2004 was the best year on record for inbound visitor numbers with 27.7m people visiting Britain and spending a total of £13.03billion.
These figures are forecast to grow by another 3% in 2005 with data for the first three months of this year showing an 11% rise on spend and a 12% increase in visitor numbers compared to the same period last year.
Coastal areas of Suffolk and Essex are expected to be heaving over the Bank Holiday weekend as people take advantage of the hot temperatures predicted by weather experts.
Traffic is expected to be particularly heavy in these areas and motoring organisation the AA warns to leave in good time.
A spokesman for the company said: “With the forecast today, there will be quite a few people heading to the coast, probably less so tomorrow .
“Because the weather is good the coastal areas will be very popular. The advice is if you're travelling around this weekend some congestion is inevitable so leave in good time, plan your journey in advance and allow for any possible delays.”