Suffolk: Tourism bosses cross fingers for a summer boost as hot weather continues

Ruth Noble tries to cool off Jack Russell Cross Nelly at the RSPCA centre in Martlesham Heath

Ruth Noble tries to cool off Jack Russell Cross Nelly at the RSPCA centre in Martlesham Heath - Credit: Archant

Tourism chiefs are looking forward to a boost to the economy this summer, with early signs that the hot weather is set to continue.

Hundreds flock to Felixstowe beach to take advantage of the hot weather. Sam Ng (correct spelling) o

Hundreds flock to Felixstowe beach to take advantage of the hot weather. Sam Ng (correct spelling) on Felixstowe beach. - Credit: Archant

The current heat wave is good news for the tourism industry, with more visitors flocking to Suffolk’s attractions and spending money in businesses, and bosses are confident of a successful season.

However the scorching temperatures have caused some concern for others, including staff at the RSPCA centre in Martlesham, who struggle to keep the animals cool in the blistering heat.

Although the county has been basking in hot sunshine for the past few weeks, experts at Weatherquest were keen to point out that comparisons should not be made to the summer of 1976, when Britain experienced an unprecedented heat wave and drought.

Jim Bacon, from Weatherquest, said: “We are not in the same league as the 1976 summer yet.

“However there is no sign of this weather disappearing at the moment.”

Today temperatures were due to hit close to 30C in western areas of Suffolk. It is predicted to get cooler towards the end of the week.

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With the school holidays approaching, there are hopes that visitor numbers will further increase.

Keith Brown, chief executive officer for Visit Suffolk, said: “Visit Suffolk is delighted with the continuation of the excellent weather that the county is experiencing and tourism businesses are reporting good numbers of visitors even though for many families the main school holiday period is yet to start.

“Tourist businesses in Suffolk experienced some poor trading weeks at the beginning of the year so this hot weather could make up what was lost earlier. Overall, feedback from businesses indicates that over the full season, business should see a modest growth.”

Amanda Bond, brand manager for Visit Suffolk, added: “The warmer weather has been a welcome boost to Suffolk’s tourism industry and local economy as crowds and visitors have been inspired to visit Suffolk’s top beaches, local attractions and taste our fantastic food and drink in beer gardens and pubs. We hope that a busy summer season continues and that the sunny weather’s here to stay.”

Water reserves are also in a good position.

Antony Innes from Anglian Water explained: “All the rain last year means we are in a healthy position. There is no danger of hosepipe bans for the next year. We are in a very good position.

“The ground water stores are above normal level too.

“However we do always say to our customers to be sensible with the water supply.”

Despite it being the driest April to July since 1996 there are no real concerns about drought but the Environment Agency (EA) is keeping an eye on water levels.

Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the EA, said: “Last year’s exceptionally wet summer and autumn has left us in a fairly good position with most rivers, reservoirs and underground water stores around normal for the time of year but some river levels are dropping as a result of the hot, dry spell that we are enjoying.”

With the hot weather also comes concerns for some.

Becky Fox, deputy manager at the RSPCA animal centre at Martlesham, said: “The heat is an additional thing we have to be aware of. It is a bit of a worry.

“The pens for the cats are getting hot so we have been adding sand and keeping the doors and windows of the pens open.

“We did have a cat that had to be taken to the vets as it had a high temperature. It is harder to keep the cats cool as they don’t like water sprayed at them.

“With the dogs, we can hose them and they play in the paddling pools.

“The rabbits are a concern as they do not show when they are ill. We have been giving them freezing water bottles.”

Ben Woolf, a farmer at Oak House Farm in Sproughton, said the hot weather brought mixed blessings.

He said: “It is good to have a dry period during the harvest and we are about to start cropping barley so it is good that it is dry. However it is bad for our livestock. We need a bit of rain for the grass to grow. If it stays dry for another two or three weeks, we will have to use our reserves.”

Although an Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman reported they have not been more busy due to the weather, a skin specialist urged people to take proper precautions in the heat.

Rachel Alexander, Macmillan skin cancer clinical nurse specialist at Ipswich Hospital, said: “We know that getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of skin cancer (melanoma) so it really is not worth the risk.

“When you’re in the sun, either in this country or abroad, it’s important to keep yourself and your family safe with my top tips: wear suitable clothing and hats or longer sleeves to protect your skin, use a sun cream with a recommended 30+ SPF and good UVA/UVB protection, apply it 20 minutes before sun exposure and don’t forget to reapply.”