Tourism 'ambassadors' in historic town are thanked for volunteering their time
PUBLISHED: 13:36 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:36 05 April 2019
The "unsung heroes" who volunteer their time in Bury St Edmunds to provide a warm welcome to visitors from around the world have been thanked for their efforts.
As part of English Tourism Week, Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill met some of the town’s tour guides near the abbey ruins in the Abbey Gardens and other tourism volunteers at the visitor information point at the cathedral shop.
The historic market town hosts around 829,000 trips annually, bringing in £49million to the local economy.
Last year, Bury’s 22 tour guides, who are all volunteers, led 3,000 tours to people of 32 different nationalities.
Read more: ‘Tourism is booming’ – hotels invest £10m in town to keep up with growing demand
Mrs Churchill, who thanked the volunteers, said: “Our town wouldn’t be our town if it wasn’t for the volunteers. Every guide has something special they want to tell our visitors about.”
Bury St Edmunds and Beyond is the official tourism brand that promotes the town and the surrounding area as a visitor destination with the aim of increasing overnight stays.
Its marketing and brand manager Sue Warren said: “A lot of people are paid to work in tourism here, but they are the unsung heroes who provide an amazing welcome to visitors from all over the world.”
Michael Dean, chairman of the Bury tour guides association, said the town guides really are “ambassadors” as the face of tourism.
He said heritage tourism was vitally important for the local economy, adding 1,000 jobs are supported by tourism in the town.
Tour guide Stephen Moody added: “The type of people who come to somewhere like Bury St Edmunds are educated, are interested in history, architecture and are prosperous. Bury has also become a foody place and that’s attracting people. It’s a whole package here that ticks lots of boxes for people.”
Ms Warren said the investment in marketing the town, through Bury and Beyond, was making a “huge difference” in the last year.
She said nationally, there is particular interest in the 1,000th anniversary of the Abbey of St Edmund next year, the Theatre Royal’s 200th anniversary this year and the filming of David Copperfield in the town.