Why holidaymakers are choosing Suffolk

SUFFOLK'S tourism industry looks set for a major boost this summer as more Britain's choose to holiday in the UK.

Anthony Bond

SUFFOLK'S tourism industry looks set for a major boost this summer as more Britain's choose to holiday in the UK.

The UK's largest self-catering specialist has said cottage bookings in Suffolk have increased by 30% on this time last year with bookings at two hotels in Southwold up 6% on last year.

Suffolk Tourism Partnership says there has been a greater interest in the county as a holiday destination with hits to the Visit Suffolk website significantly increasing in the past few months.

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The EADT reported last week how Prime Minister Gordon Brown may spend a week holidaying in the Southwold area with his family this summer. And with more people wanting a return to traditional seaside pastimes, donkeys are returning to the beaches of Lowestoft for the first time in 40 years.

Francis Guildea, general manager of Adnams Hotels - which owns The Swan Hotel and The Crown Hotel in Southwold -said bookings were up 6% for the two hotels, which was good news for the rest of the community.

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“It is fantastic,” he said. “Both businesses are very mature and as a result we are used to them being fairly busy all of the time and so an uplift is gratifying because it is an uplift on us normally being busy which is great.

“It is good for the community because more people coming to the town will mean that more people will be in the shops, pubs and restaurants. This leads to Southwold being more vibrant and having a sustainable future.”

He added: “We are continuing to work very hard to attract business as the market is still tough out there. Where there are good offers and good areas to visit with quality accommodation and attractions then those areas will benefit.”

Tim Rowan-Robinson, managing director of Thorpeness & Aldeburgh Hotels, also said business was strong at the moment. “The fact that we are not finding it hard may be a good sign. We are finding that the business is reasonably strong but that people are in negotiating mood and bookings are coming in later than they have been in the past.”

Hoseasons - the UK's largest self-catering specialist - said cottage occupancy in Suffolk was up 30% on this time last year with year.

Chief executive Richard Carrick said: “We have found that more customers than ever before want to jump in a car with the family and avoid the hassle and increased costs of an overseas break.”

He added: “This isn't solely an economic issue however, a growing number of holidaymakers are also rediscovering the joys of a UK break.

“I think the appeal of Suffolk is the relative short distance from larger towns or cities. Cornwall has seen an increase in holiday makers, but not to the extent of Suffolk and that is partly down to the distance.”

Jim Brown, from Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said there were reasons to be optimistic: “Coupled with the current strength of the Euro and the credit crunch, we expect more people will consider holidaying at home, therefore, the news from a significant holiday booking agency such as Hoseasons is very encouraging for UK tourism.

“The website hits to Visit Suffolk over the last four months have increased greatly on a year-on-year basis. There are certain things going in favour of UK tourism such as the Euro being very strong and people have less in their pockets and so are trying to be fairly frugal.”

Tourism in the county is crucial to the economy worth £1.084bn and employing 30,000 people in more than 2,000 businesses.

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