Suffolk: Wet weather and Olympics dampen Suffolk’s summer tourism
THE Olympics and the wet weather have been blamed for a disappointing summer season for Suffolk’s tourism industry, a new report has revealed.
The snapshot, published by Visit Suffolk, highlights an almost universal decline in revenue over the summer.
This decline has been blamed on the wet and changeable weather, the economic condition, and the Olympic Games, which meant people were more inclined to watch the Games on the television rather than venture out.
However, Amanda Bond, brand manager from Visit Suffolk, said the story is not all doom and gloom.
She said: “We need to remember this was an unusual year and should not be compared with year-on-year. The weather and the Olympics were a major factor, but there are success stories.”
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The online survey, entitled the Business Confidence Monitor, provided a snapshot of industry performance for the pervious three months including the summer holidays. 37 businesses took part in the survey, out of a total 250 invited, including accommodation providers, attractions and museums and arts venues.
Respondents were asked to reflex on consumer behaviour, with many concluding the majority of customers had decreased their discretionary spending.
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Overall, turnover expectations were down 6.4% from last year and profits were down by 4.5% year-on-year.
Almost half of those who responded reported a decrease of up to 10% in trade.
Even where businesses had seen an increase in visitors this did not necessarily translate into increased spending, the report suggested.
Those in the hotel and B&B trade saw a surge in last minute bookings (43%), but this surge was not linked to the Olympic Games as predicted.
Keith Brown, chief executive of Visit Suffolk, said: “From an accommodation point of view, our cottage rentals and holiday parks, have had a good performance.
“The challenges occur with the amount of money people have to spend when they are here.”
Mr Brown added that the Olympic legacy will probably be felt in the next year or two.
Alex Paul, chief executive of Suffolk Secrets who has 400 properties in the county, has reported a positive year.
He said: “We are 5% up on last year.
“Many people have been booking well in advance. This is where the market has been growing. But we are also seeing a demand in last minute bookings. Suffolk has a lot to offer.”
Stephen Bournes, owner or Southwold Pier, said: “The weather has certainly been a bit of a turn off, but the people who are coming to Suffolk are true Brits.
“Everything is geared up to August. If you lose 10% of trade in August, that can have a major impact on the rest of the year.
“The biggest headache this summer has been managing staff. We rota more staff on if the weather is sunny, but the forecast is not always accurate.”