Suffolk set for £1billion tourism boom

TOURISM is expected to be worth more than £1billion to Suffolk by 2009, a draft strategy has predicted.Suffolk Development Agency is hoping to increase tourism expenditure by 13% in three years by helping the county capitalise on its high-quality environment.

TOURISM is expected to be worth more than £1billion to Suffolk by 2009, a draft strategy has predicted.

Suffolk Development Agency is hoping to increase tourism expenditure by 13% in three years by helping the county capitalise on its high-quality environment.

The target has been drawn up by the agency's Suffolk Tourism Partnership (STP) in its draft business plan for 2006 to 2009, which will go before board members tomorrow .

The document outlines a series of proposals for new services that will help strengthen tourism in Suffolk, including new ways of promoting the area, training and research.


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However, without extra money and infrastructure, the partnership has warned its plans for a thriving tourism trade could falter.

Robert Gough, the partnership's chairman, said in the report: “In the life of this plan, tourism is expected to rise in value for the county to in excess of £1bn and it is already the fifth largest employment sector for the county.

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“Through the developments outlined in this plan, a stronger more focused approach to tourism will be delivered through the STP.

“Many new services, essential for tourism to thrive for Suffolk, are outlined in the strategy and without increased resource and funding will not be realised.”

The partnership, which was formed more than three years ago from public, private and voluntary sector representatives, has earmarked 16 priorities for the future.

These include increasing awareness of Suffolk as a year-round top tourist destination, almost doubling the partnership's membership to 1,200, encouraging the local population to visit and use the county's attractions, influencing education organisations to have tourism subjects in the curriculum and providing advice to businesses.

But one of its main concerns is to ensure the potential of major initiatives in and around the county are realised, including London's 2012 Olympics and plans for Suffolk's own university.

If the strategy gains approval, the partnership will be providing 15 new services to its members. These range from marketing initiatives targeting new people - such as golf packages, art trails and activity breaks - to customer satisfaction research.

Developing tourism-related initiatives with University College Suffolk and providing a central information hub for the county's tourism industry are included.

The draft strategy also sets out how the partnership would need investment in a new structure, led by a general manager, so it can deliver the programme.

As well as increasing tourism expenditure from £948million to £1.07bn, it expects to boost staying visitor spending by 13% to £306.5m and day trip spending by 11% to £751.9m in the next three years.

It wants 700 people to be trained, 150 businesses to be receiving advice, an enhanced website, 12 publications and more funding from the public and private sectors by 2009.

But the report says that without additional funding its objectives “cannot be met”.

Scott Dolling, STP marketing manager, said in the strategy that changes at Suffolk County Council and the East of England Tourist Board (EETB) in recent years meant the role of the STP needed to be “more robust”.

He added: “The Suffolk Tourism Partnership is set to grow and take on more responsibility for developing the county's tourism product.”

Tess Wright, EETB managing director, said: “The current value of tourism is £948m, so a £1bn regional target for growth is 4% per annum - the Suffolk target is therefore realistic in that context.

“Suffolk benefits from a well organised tourism partnership and works effectively with the East of England Tourist Board - we have seen increased PR coverage and marketing activity in Suffolk in the last two years.”

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