Suffolk: MPs back tourism bid as peace breaks out in ‘Curious County’ war of words

PEACE has broken out in the war of words between Suffolk’s MPs and the region’s tourist body over the controversial “Curious County” campaign.

Four of the county’s MPs were left bemused or irritated when Visit Suffolk unveiled its internet marketing campaign based on the “Curious County” concept at the end of last month.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley was particularly scathing, describing the slogan as: “idiotic and meaningless if not positively dangerous.”

However after a meeting with leading Suffolk hotelier Robert Gough and Keith Brown from Visit East Anglia the MPs, including Mr Ruffley, were reassured by the campaign.

Mr Ruffley said: “The concern was that this would be adopted as the marketing slogan for all publicity in the county – but we have been assured this is only for the social media campaign.

“It is one small strand, and Visit Suffolk will remain the main brand highlighting all aspects of what the county has to offer from the fine coastline, the Aldeburgh Festival, to the finest market town in the world, Bury St Edmunds!

“Our concern was that ‘Curious County’ message would put off people who would be interested in the traditional tourism attractions – but if it is one strand aimed at a particular group who might be interested in social media then we could see what they were doing.”

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Mr Brown said the campaign had been hugely successful in raising the profile of the county on social networks, and that the MPs accepted what it was about.

He said: “This briefing has given our MPs the confidence that we have adopted the right approach for Suffolk. “Over the past 10 days alone the Twitter hashtag #proudtobecurious has been supported by over 148,000 people, further evidence that the campaign has captured imaginations and provoked the response of curiosity we anticipated.

“The story has also caught the attention of worldwide press, raising the profile of Suffolk internationally. Our aim is to drive visitors to Suffolk and this is the first stage in doing so.”

The Curious County has the backing of local firms including Adnams, Suffolk Secrets, Gough Hotels, Southwold Pier, The Big Three (Banham Zoo, Africa Alive and The Dinosaur Park) and Visit East Anglia as well as thousands online.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous also backed the campaign: “I don’t think it works for visitors looking for traditional attractions – but I can see it would help attract those looking for short breaks in Suffolk.”

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