TV dragon promotes Suffolk - then flies to France

HE is a multi-millionaire and TV star who has been tasked to change a seaside town's fortunes.

Anthony Bond

HE is a multi-millionaire and TV star who has been tasked to change a seaside town's fortunes.

As part of a new TV show, Duncan Bannatyne is hoping to boost the Suffolk resort of Felixstowe.

After filming in the town for The Great British Holiday Show on Sunday, the businessman told the EADT how “people should be holidaying here instead of going abroad”. He also said recently he is “all for holidays at home”.

But it seems the 60-year-old entrepreneur, who claims to be the richest of the five Dragons, still enjoys the pleasure of going abroad.

Entries on his micro-blogging site Twitter reveals that he has been filming for the new show, which promotes British holidays, while jetting backwards and forwards from a holiday at his luxury villa in the south of France.

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At one point, the health club owner posts: “Early pick up today, off to Felixstowe to film The Great British Holiday Show. Should be at villa in France really.”

His Twitter page reveals that, rather than enjoying entertainment of the likes of Charles Manning's Amusements, Mr Bannatyne and his family have been relaxing at his villa in the medieval village of Mougins on the luxurious Cote d'Azur, just 15 minutes from Cannes.

On July 10, the health club owner posted: “The holidays start tomorrow, South of France here I come!”

While about a week later, he said: “Sunday in paradise, BBQ at a friend in Mougins with kids. Oh life in the fast lane.”

Later posts reveal that he has been enjoying firework displays on Bastille Day and aqua-aerobics sessions in his outdoor pool. At one stage he also invites fellow Dragon James Caan around for lunch.

Last night, Mr Bannatyne, who from the age of 15 was based at Shotley, near Ipswich, for 12 years with the Royal Navy, said: “I own the villa in France which I bought before the recession. I have sacrificed some of my break there to fly back to the UK to promote great British seaside towns as perfect holiday destinations in the recession.”

Former mayor Doreen Savage, who is a town and district councillor, said: “I cannot comment on Mr Bannatyne's lifestyle but I would say that, yes, people should come here to holiday. We have the most glorious climate and we have almost constant sunshine, so of course people should come.”

Mr Bannatyne is visiting six struggling seaside towns as part of the show, which will be shown on Virgin 1 at the beginning of 2010. Felixstowe was chosen because in recent years, it has suffered a downturn in visitors while other nearby places have seen an increase.