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Holiday changes would kill Yarmouth, say tourism leaders

15:19 12 September 2014

Tony Smith from Saras Tearooms: half his 'cake' comes in the summer
 
Picture: James Bass

Tony Smith from Saras Tearooms: half his 'cake' comes in the summer Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

The clamour is growing from Norfolk’s tourism leaders to ditch planned school holiday changes which they claim would cost thousands of jobs.

A delegation of Great Yarmouth businessmen is to meet local MP and government minister Brandon Lewis next Tuesday to spell out what they see as the devastating impact of the Government’s Deregulation Bill which would give schools across England the freedom to dictate the shape of their academic year.

The bill, due to be discussed in the House of Lords next month, has been championed by former education secretary Michael Gove who wants to reduce summer holidays from six to four weeks and claims the education system is being handicapped by what he describes as a 19th century timetable.

However, Visit Norfolk brand manager Pete Waters said the impact of the likely changes - moving two of the weeks to create longer breaks away from the summer - would be to send increasing numbers of domestic tourists abroad.

“Families want to have their holidays in warm weather, something that cannot be guaranteed in England in October. The winners in this are going to be the airlines and foreign tourism destinations,” he said.

Yarmouth Pleasure Beach boss Albert Jones, left, who employs 100 people in high season, said: “It will be the biggest challenge I have had to deal with in business if this bill goes ahead.

“Around 50pc of our takings come during the six weeks in July and August. Taking away two of those weeks would be like telling shops they can only open so many days at Christmas.

“No seaside business in Yarmouth would survive on four weeks of summer holiday trading. It would cost thousands of jobs and major tourist attractions like us would close.”

Peter Jay, who runs the Hippodrome Circus, said: “We cannot operate anything on a four-week summer holiday; there would be no circus and the impact would be felt at resorts across the country.”

Former Yarmouth Mayor Tony Smith, who runs the renowned Sarah’s Tearooms in Pleasure Beach Gardens, said: “Between 52pc and 55pc of my turnover comes in the six weeks - that’s 42 days out of the 175 days we are open.

“The vast majority of seaside businesses would become marginal if these changes went ahead and it is already becoming harder and harder to maintain the status quo.”

He voiced his concern that Yarmouth and other seaside towns would follow the fate of Margate in Kent where the seaside industry had already collapsed.

Vice-chairman of Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association Peter Williamson, who has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds during his 10 years at Yarmouth’s Merrivale Model Village, said longer holidays outside the summer would not work for outdoor attractions - and he predicted it would send prices rocketing for families during the shorter school summer holiday.

Mr Lewis confirmed he would be meeting local tourism leaders to learn about their concerns before the bill came back to the House of Commons.

However, he said: “The Government has been putting power back in the hands of schools, moving away from Labour’s top-down approach to education.

“The changes in the Deregulation Bill will allow schools to respond to the needs of their children and the preferences of their parents. Many schools have already used these powers to the benefit of their pupils. I think that it is important that schools have the power to deliver the most suitable educational timetable for their students to be best placed for the future.”

11 comments

  • Great Yarmouth should be put out of its misery.

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    norman hall

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • I am currently in Valencia, Spain on a half board seven day break in a four star hotel.It cost me £370. Yet GYBC and the other rulers of the council being the touristy lot are scratching their heads as to why their 'lovely' town with it's parking fees is struggling?...... I think another foreign holiday is in order.

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    wes1975

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • Great Yarmouth is dying now, so to reduce the main season by 2 weeks and make the situation worse defies logic... This said the proposed 1000 houses to be built near the James Paget hospital will create more traffic and hospital A & E stress and problems... getting in and out of GY in the summer not good for businesses and tourists...if you increase the population beyond an acceptable limit for the services to cope with and lack of jobs many will suffer and be under pressure. I like shave ideas about GY seafront and amusement arcades are not one of them... GY needs something new and sort out the parking which looses many local trade .. from Gorleston and other areas... and Norwich benefits by such poor shopping in GY.. The Empire and Marketplace CO-OP Building shut for many years and the Britannia Pier shut 40 weeks a year .. must tell people something. No wonder tourist trade has dropped the past 20 years and guest houses going over the benefit claimers for all year round income. With people with little money to spend locally. Things to do on GY seafront in the evening in June and July is nothing....Even the fairground is shut.. School holidays in August is ok for the UK .. But going abroad can be far to HOT at 40c and too crowded to travel. if 4 weeks is reduced from 6 weeks the 2 weeks affected may not be summer weeks... which makes matter worse. all round.

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    Lionel

    Monday, September 15, 2014

  • I agree with Albert Jones, Peter Jay and Tony Smith. A 4 week school summer holiday would make the already too-short British main holiday season too short to sustain funfairs, theatres, attractions. "Do-gooers" may want school terms of exact length etc. but the weather in this country isn't kind in October.

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    Mick Castle

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

  • "Holiday changes would kill Yarmouth....", sadly I think Yarmouth was killed a long time ago based on it's current state & the type of people who are increasingly moving there, I feel for the people trying to run their businesses & make it a better place, but you won't get any help from the Tories, they're largely responsible for it's current degenerative state.

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    DocScott

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

  • Gorleston Expat, I totally agree. Rather than moan about changing school holidays (a change which I feel is more beneficial for children's education) perhaps the local tourist industry should try and be a little more creative about its offering, which might in turn extend it's season. Unfortunately much of it is currently based around tacky shops selling overpriced cheap and nasty rubbish and amusement arcades, ie minimum effort for maximum return. It feels like there is very little attempt to provide any sort of quality, value for money holiday. There are a small number of nice eateries and one or two decent attractions such as the Time & Tide museum but they are in the minority.

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    Row71

    Saturday, September 13, 2014

  • Lets turn this argument on its head..... Rather than a six-week summer holiday period being compressed into four; surely the converse is true? If schools are not forced to have their summer holidays betwen the last week of July and the beginning of September, would this not mean that many holiday makers could then take their holidays in June or at the beginning of July? The kids are still ging to get holidays, so this is a real opportunity for the season to be extended. The real challenge is for tourism-related business in Yarmouth to invest in providing visitors with a quality holiday-experience so they will stay longer, and come back more frequently.

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    Gorleston-Ex-Pat

    Saturday, September 13, 2014

  • Yarmouth's economy should not be based on tourism. It is a Victorian mindset and has held us back as a town for too long. We need to MAKE things. We need to generate our own wealth not be reliant on others charity for 6 weeks every year. Will there be casualties from moving towards this? Yes, but they should have diversified long ago. the archaic grip these cockle and whelk salesmen have over the running of this town is hilarious.

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    Steady On

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

  • I don't understand why everyone is against the change to the school holidays, if you go by the standard of exam results these days and the standard of English and spelling these days, kids need more school rather than long holidays. Why is everyone worried about losing money if the six weeks is shortened, if the schools stagger the holidays between Spring and Autumn, the weather would be fine. Half Term at Easter could be lengthened and perhaps a week in May or June. Is there an underlying issue here that these businesses don't want to open for a longer time during the year. If Yarmouth didn't close half it's shops and attractions during what is 'off season', they might get more money coming in anyway, with so many places closed, no-one wants to come here. Open up the place.

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    Spooky

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

  • Nice to see the EDP's censors are in full flow, just because a comment does not agree with their rose tinted view of Yarmouth.

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    "V"

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

  • "Holiday changes would kill Yarmouth, say tourism leaders" How do you 'kill' something that is already dead ?.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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