Sun shines on tourism industry

TOURIST destinations across East Anglia were watching the money roll in yesterday as the sizzling temperatures continued to soar.While the heat wave meant more bad news for trains, the region's tourist hot spots were crammed with sun seekers.

TOURIST destinations across East Anglia were watching the money roll in yesterday as the sizzling temperatures continued to soar.

While the heat wave meant more bad news for trains, the region's tourist hot spots were crammed with sun seekers.

Holidaymakers and day-trippers basked in the glorious sunshine on Aldeburgh beach, as hoteliers reached their busiest part of the season.

Michael Pritt, owner of the Wentworth Hotel, said the hot weather did draw more day visitors.

"For us, we would hope to be busy anyway, regardless, but it does bring people out to have lunch and to have a drink and go out for dinner in the evenings," he said.

"It does produce more people in that way, but before the heat wave started we had very good bookings for August anyway - Aldeburgh will always be busy."

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Grahame Tinnion, operations manager at the newly refurbished Brudenell Hotel in the town, said guests were enjoying basking on the terrace.

"In all honesty, August is always good for us, but for businesses which have outside areas, it's a bonus," he said. "The sun shines and everybody piles in. Business is very good."

A spokesman for Thames Coastguard said yesterday was more like a weekend because of the number of sun worshippers making day trips to the region's beaches.

But he reminded parents to make sure they keep a close eye on their children, explaining that coastguard phone lines had been virtually jammed for two hours with missing children calls.

He said: "We had a flurry of child related beach incidents with a number of reports from parents saying they had lost their children.

"The main problems were along the Essex coastline, but we would encourage parents to keep a better eye on their children, especially when they are using inflatables."

Waveney District Council spokesman David Holland said all the resorts in north Suffolk were extremely busy with people heading for the beaches to make the most of the fine weather.

"We have had reports of near record crowds at a number of locations along the coast and all are reporting they are extremely busy and near to bursting," he said.

The Blue Flag beaches at Lowestoft and Southwold were popular destinations along with the more rural coastal locations including Kessingland.

"Everywhere has been so busy in the past few days and it is so ironic that the last day we had relatively poor weather was the second day of the Lowestoft air show last week," said Mr Holland.

Some of the busiest people in the area have been the lifeguards employed by Waveney District Council who patrol the beaches at Southwold and Lowestoft's South Beach.

Head lifeguard Joe Annis said: "Here at Southwold in the lifeguard patrolled area near the pier we have been seeing more than 800 visitors a day and there are many more along other areas of the beach.

"We have been delighted at the responsible attitude taken by people while on the beach or in the sea and there have been no problems."

The Pleasurewood Hills theme park near Lowestoft was another venue that proved a big hit with holidaymakers and local residents, while the animals at Suffolk Wildlife Park at Kessingland were another great attraction.

"The reports we are getting suggest that both the public and private tourist attractions in Waveney are enjoying a bumper period at the moment and this is most welcome," said Mr Holland.

Tills were ringing on the sunshine coast of Tendring while many inland attractions also reported a sharp uptake in customers.

Meanwhile retail outlets across the area also reported a boost in sales, with many traditional summer goods selling out altogether.

In Clacton, Mark Baird – general manager of the town's pier – said: "Things are very good across the whole of the seafront.

"It's not just us though – the pubs are doing good business too. It's very difficult to say exactly how many people are here, but there are many, many thousands."

Terry McKean, secretary of Clacton's Chamber of Commerce, said he was delighted with visitor numbers and the business flowing into to the resort.

"We are really taking advantage of the good weather at the moment. When there's hot weather people appear as if a magician has waved a magic wand."

In Dovercourt, the seafront and its beach huts also proved a huge attraction.

"It is so popular now that virtually all of the huts are open on a daily basis. The car park's packed and the road is full," said Betty Holloway, secretary of Harwich and Dovercourt Bay Beach Hut and Seafront Users Association.

"People use their huts from 8am until 10pm at night. It's a home from home."

Walton on the Naze was just as busy with huge numbers of day-trippers visiting.

Some shops in the area have had so much extra custom they were at the point of almost running out of stock.

As people rushed outside to make the most of the sunshine, the Woolworths store in Clacton found paddling pools and garden furniture selling out yesterday, while Wilkinson's in Colchester saw an increase in popularity for fans.

With crowds flocking to the coast, vest tops and shorts have been selling especially well in Peacocks on Frinton's Connaught Avenue for the past week.

Rose Levin, an employee at the Spar shop in the town said the chiller cabinets were emptying of all brands of soft drinks and added: "We've been selling water by the gallon."

Meanwhile, ice cream manufacturers, such as Anglia Frozen Foods Ltd in Colchester, have been receiving a lot of additional orders and have been running out of certain types of lollies.

But the sweltering weather was not good news for everyone - the heat caused health problems across the region, particularly for the elderly.

Doctors stressed the importance of drinking lots of fluids – at least two litres of water above normal intake – if going out in the sun.

People should also avoid prolonged direct exposure to the rays and make sure they wear a high factor sun cream.

Additionally, people were advised to wear hats and try to make sure the backs of their necks remain shaded as much as possible.

The weather also saw trains affected nationwide, frustrating many commuters who had to endure longer journeys and prolonged waits at stations.

A number of trains were cancelled, with services between London and Birmingham particularly badly hit.

The restrictions, limiting trains to 60mph in some places, have been imposed by Network Rail amid fears that the high temperatures will cause rails to buckle.

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