Tourism minister's message for Suffolk during two-day tour
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
Suffolk's tourist business must build on the success of the last two years to continue to attract people who may not have enjoyed a UK holiday for years, government tourism minister said at the end of a two-day visit to the county.
Nigel Huddleston visited Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday before staying overnight and visiting Southwold, Sutton Hoo and the Suffolk Food Hall at Wherstead before returning to London.
And he said tourist businesses should increase the emphasis on developing a career in the sector - not just seeing themselves as providing seasonal jobs.
But during his trip to the Suffolk Food Hall as part of the Visit East of England-sponsored tour, he said it was clear many people had found things had changed in domestic tourism over the years.
Mr Huddleston said: "Many people have discovered UK holidays for the first time in many years because of the pandemic and difficulties with going abroad. They have found they offer really high-quality - and that is precisely what you have in Suffolk.
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"That is prompting many people to decide they want to do the same again."
Visit East of England director Pete Waters said repeat bookings for summer holidays in 2022 were 60% up on where they were at the same point two years ago.
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Mr Huddleston said: "We are seeing that tourism is becoming less seasonal and there are more full-time jobs in the sector - and there are careers on offer, not just temporary jobs."
Oliver Paul, Suffolk Food Hall director, said: “It was particularly pleasing to welcome the Minister during British Food Fortnight and to explain how the local indie food offering has been more adaptive during the Covid and the more recent fuel crises”.
On the first day of his visit Mr Huddleston said: "It was fantastic to visit Bury St Edmunds and see first-hand many of the brilliant attractions on offer for tourists and visitors to the area.
"It has been a good summer for our domestic tourism and hospitality sector and I will continue to do all I can to champion and support this important industry."
Sue Warren of the town’s tourism brand Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, said: “The Minister’s visit provided a unique opportunity to tell him about the bumper summer visitor season we have enjoyed here.
"It also gave us the chance to tell the Minister all about the 1000-year celebrations of the Abbey that will take place next year and of course show off the Abbey Gardens as our top visitor attraction.”