Town enjoys 'Gordon Brown effect'

DESPITE the miserable recent weather, traders say that business is booming in Southwold this summer - and they believe it could be down to the “Gordon Brown effect”.

Mark Lord

DESPITE the miserable recent weather, traders say that business is booming in Southwold this summer - and they believe it could be down to the “Gordon Brown effect”.

Business leaders said the seaside town was reaping the benefits from the Prime Minister's decision to spend his summer holiday in the area.

Mr Brown and his family spent two weeks in the county earlier this month, staying at Shadingfield Hall, near Halesworth, and enjoying the beauty of the Suffolk coast.

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And it appears the extra publicity generated for the area - particularly Southwold - has had a knock-on effect.

Stephen Bournes, owner of Southwold Pier, said: “Gordon Brown's visit has been really great for the town - most people have been very positive.

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“The extra publicity has meant that despite the sometimes less that brilliant weather there have been more tourists here in Southwold.

“I believe Mr Brown's visit and the fact that he holidayed in this country has lead to a surge in British tourism which I think is very important as it is vital to know about your own country's culture and what it has to offer.

“It has been fantastic for the area that he has been here.”

Adele Buckley, secretary of Southwold's Chamber of Trade, said: “The general feeling is that it did bring a lot more people into the town, businesses have said that there were a lot more day trippers here and many of the hotels said that they have had a lot more last minute bookings as a result.

“His visit certainly created a fantastic buzz around the town and got people talking to each other about the visit.

“Whether the visit will have a long term affect on tourism we don't know as yet, but certainly the Prime Minister's visit and that of Charles and Camilla (who visited the Adnams brewery as part of a Suffolk tour the end of last month) brought Southwold to the front of people's minds.”

However, a spokesman for holiday lettings at Durrants estate agents in Southwold said: “We have not received any more holiday let bookings than any other year.”

Scott Dolling, acting chief executive of Suffolk Development Agency, said: “Time will tell as to whether the visit by Gordon Brown influences further business for Suffolk's tourism industry.

“We have been lucky this summer to have seen both a serving Prime Minister and the heir to the throne both choosing Suffolk. The associated coverage which has depicted a flourishing and high quality destination can only be to our benefit.

“Suffolk is the perfect antidote to busy city life in London and with a developing year round cultural offer, means that we can encourage visitors outside the summer peak and add greater value for our businesses.”

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