Tourism industry hopes for bumper Easter

THE tourism industry in Suffolk and Essex is banking on a bumper Easter weekend to help kick-start a bumper summer season.

Elliot Furniss

THE tourism industry in Suffolk and Essex is banking on a bumper Easter weekend to help kick-start a bumper summer season.

With the pound continuing to perform poorly against the Euro, many people who would previously have headed abroad for a few days are choosing to stay closer to home.

And the stunning East Anglian countryside and great range of holiday events on offer are set to help out the hotels, shops and restaurants and draw people back over the summer months.

Keith Brown, chief executive of the East of England Tourism Board, said all of the signs so far pointed to a strong start to the season.

He said: “Our businesses are looking forward to welcoming visitors, whether that's hunting for Easter eggs at Sutton Hoo or welcoming HM The Queen, and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

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“We hope the season will begin positively as many people choose to explore their own country's many delights.”

Alex Paul, of Choose Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the weekend ahead.

“The Easter weekend is very important for tourism,” said Mr Paul. “If you have a good weekend, with good weather, it sets the tone for the summer and the rest of the year.

“Last year we had snow over Easter and that really didn't help. If people have a fantastic time then they come back.”

Robert Gough runs two hotels in Suffolk, the Angel in Bury St Edmunds and Salthouse Harbour in Ipswich, and said he had experienced his best ever March in terms of bookings and was looking forward to a strong weekend ahead.

He said: “What is playing into our hands well is the incredible cost of going to Europe. We have worked very hard at our places and there is a lot of business out there to be had.

“I hope this signals that the rest of the year is very good. People are being very selective about what they book and are very aware of savings and deals and getting value for money.”

Naomi Tarry runs Best of Suffolk, an online firm offering “stylish self-catering accommodation”, and said its 50 cottages were fully booked for the coming few days.

She said: “Unfortunately, we're having to turn people away, which is a really nice thing to be able to say in the current economic climate.

“People come for the whole package - really nice restaurants, good pubs and cafes and lovely places to go for a walk along the coast.”

The annual Spring Conference for Waveney's Tourism Forum was told that an extra 10,000 holiday guides had been printed for the Sunrise Coast marketing campaign to accommodate the recent high demand.

In Essex there was equal optimism for a strong showing from tourists over the coming holiday.

Alex Downing, development director at Colchester Zoo, said the success of the weekend was largely dependent on the weather but predicted a busy few days if the sun could hold out.

She said: “We had a disastrous Easter last year with snow on Easter Sunday but it's the start of our season so we're hoping for a busy weekend.”

Lisa Bone, strategic tourism manager for Visit Essex, a website operated by Essex County Council, said she expected extra tourists from both the UK and the rest of Europe over the next few days.

She said: “Evidence showing from Stansted Airport is of more international visitors coming in and less people going out overseas, so we are hoping more Europeans will come to us while more people spend their money at home.”