Tourism doing well -despite wet weather

THE Great British Summer delivered another spectacular deluge in East Anglia yesterday - and forecasters warned there may be no immediate improvement in the weather.

Lizzie Parry

THE Great British Summer delivered another spectacular deluge in East Anglia yesterday - and forecasters warned there may be no immediate improvement in the weather.

Rain has now fallen every day since August 4, and the unsettled weather is set to continue this week and into the weekend with heavy rain and rumbles of thunder expected.

Around 31mm of rain fell across Suffolk yesterday morning in just three hours at Wattisham.

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Ken Blowers, Ipswich based weatherman, said: “It could well be the end of the summer; the long range forecast for the rest of August is for very unsettled weather. No one can say for certain.”

But despite the outlook, those in charge of Suffolk's tourist attractions are remaining upbeat.

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Scott Dolling, acting chief executive of the Suffolk Development Agency, said: “Rotten weather does not always mean a rotten time for tourism.

“Suffolk's message is that the county is a good place to come whatever the weather.

“There were some good early indications, the problems with the economy will be having an affect, the benefit to UK tourist destinations of a bad exchange rate with the Euro means that people on a budget will be more likely to holiday here.

“We want people to see Suffolk as a year-round destination whatever the weather.”

He added: “When the weather is bad people spend more time in town centres which can be a good thing for places like Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, so even though we haven't had blazing hot weather it has meant that fewer people have just sat on a beach, people are doing more.”

Clare Baker, visitor's service officer for Suffolk Coastal District Council, echoed the positive attitude: “Coastal areas tend to suffer more when the weather is bad, the beaches in the area haven't been packed, and there weren't many people on Felixstowe beach yesterday.

“But indoor attractions though have seen a rise in visitor numbers, when it is really grim I am not surprised their numbers are up.”

Alex Downing, development director at Colchester Zoo, said that although figures were technically up on last year the attraction was highly dependant on the weather.

“With a day like today, people look outside in the morning and see it's pouring down and then make a decision as to whether or not to go out.

“Today we have had about half the number of visitors we would expect for the summer holidays. And obviously people are feeling short of money at the moment.

“We had poor weather at Easter too. However, we have had a lot of feedback saying that people are staying locally rather than going abroad this year.”

She added that recent TV coverage on Channel Five's Zoo days had increased interest in the attraction.

At Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum, near Coggeshall, the recent rain has had the advantage of making everything look beautiful.

Louise Cable, visitor centre assistant, said: “The rain has not been too great, but the gardens are looking wonderful.

“I think because of the weather we had last summer people are making the most of things anyway and coming out rain or shine.”

John Law, of Weatherquest, said: “We have still got more rain to come I'm afraid, there is some unsettling weather expected in the next couple of days.

“Today we are likely to see some heavy showers, with rumbles of thunder tomorrow. Friday is looking like the best day this week.

“At the weekend, rain will push across from the west on Saturday and there are likely to still be some unsettled conditions into the start of next week.”

He also confirmed this month has been wetter than last August.

“So far this month we have seen 62mm of rain fall with the average for August being nearer the 47mm, so with still two weeks left we have already seen a third more rain than we would expect to see, and exceeded the average rain fall.

“Last August there was a lower recorded rain fall, in the whole month we saw the average expected of about 44mm.”

Operation Stack was put in place by Suffolk police yesterday after the weather conditions near the Port of Felixstowe caused the bosses to warn truckers of possible delays.

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