Good year for tourism predicted

Tourism chiefs predicted a buoyant year ahead for Norfolk's tourist industry yesterday as they revealed the new edition of a brochure highlighting visitor attractions across the county.

Tourism chiefs predicted a buoyant year ahead for Norfolk's tourist industry yesterday as they revealed the new edition of a brochure highlighting visitor attractions across the county.

Despite the current economic gloom, they expect an increase in British holidaymakers choosing to visit Norfolk instead of spending money on expensive foreign holidays, and also a boost in the number of day trips being taken by those living in the county.

At the launch of Great Days Out in Norfolk 2009, Peter Williamson, chairman of Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association (NTAA), said: “People will always want to have a day out. The best thing is we have attractions for every budget in Norfolk.

“The credit crunch is going to miss tourism slightly, but not 100pc. I think there will be some tough times but tourism is very buoyant.”

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The brochure features 55 attractions, and 500,000 copies will be distributed to hotels, tourist information centres and attractions in the east of England and beyond.

Mr Williamson, from Merrivale Model Village, in Yarmouth, described the booklet as a “one-stop shop” to find out about visitor attractions in Norfolk. He said the booklet was especially important in showing people the wealth of things to see and do in the county, and highlighted it contained vouchers to help those feeling the pinch of the credit crunch.

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Norfolk Tourism team manager Lydia Smith added: “Norfolk has a fantastic variety of attractions, from historic houses and gardens, to theme parks, zoos and animal collections. NTAA's brochure is a first-class guide to the county's top attractions.”

Both said Norfolk's tourism attractions were doing well, and accommodation bookings are 20pc up on last year.

The brochure launch was at St George's Distillery, near East Harling, which is home to The English Whisky Company, the only registered whisky distilling company in England. The company is the NTAA's newest member and an illustration of how local attractions are doing well despite the credit crunch.

David Fitt, distillery manager, said: “Since we opened to the public in August 2007 we have had between 15,000 and 20,000 visitors, which has far exceeded expectations. A couple of hundred people visit us a week, people from all over the UK as well as abroad, including from countries such as France, Belgium, Japan and Slovenia.”

Ms Smith said: “People may cut back on expensive foreign holidays, but they will still want to go away and go on days out.”

Mr Williamson added: “Norfolk is a very special place to people.

“People hold Norfolk in their hearts from childhood and there are second and third generations of people coming back time and again to Norfolk.”

They expect the biggest tourism increases will be in people from Norfolk going on day trips, British holidaymakers coming from other parts of the country, and people visiting family and friends in Norfolk.

But while they expect an increase in foreign visitors to Norfolk because the strength of the euro, they do not think this will be a dramatic increase in the near future.

VisitBritain executive chairman Christopher Rodrigues said yesterday that the weakened pound could lead to Britons taking five million more holidays in their own country this year, as well as increase the number of overseas visitors.

To capitalise on this, VisitBritain yesterday launched a �6.5m campaign to run in the UK and abroad to highlight what the UK has to offer tourists.

Mr Rodrigues said: “Our priority this year has to be working with the industry to encourage Britons to explore their own country and foreigners to visit us right now, when we offer great value.”

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