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Big freeze disaster for tourism

PUBLISHED: 08:55 25 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 July 2010

The region's tourism businesses were last night counting the cost of the early Easter and atrocious weather.

Peter Williamson, chairman of Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association, which represents 85 businesses, said: “Indoor attractions fared slightly better but the story has been very bad for outdoor attractions.

The region's tourism businesses were last night counting the cost of the early Easter and atrocious weather.

Peter Williamson, chairman of Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association, which represents 85 businesses, said: “Indoor attractions fared slightly better but the story has been very bad for outdoor attractions. It has been a disastrous weekend - there's no other word for it.”

Mr Williamson, who runs Merrivale Model Village in Yarmouth, said his figures were 75pc down on a normal Easter and he had to shut yesterday because of the ice.

Yesterday's race meets at Yarmouth and Fakenham had to be abandoned and the region's two main attraction parks, Pleasurewood Hills, at Lowestoft and The Pleasure Beach, in Yarmouth, were both closed.

Pleasurewood Hills spokesman Denise Thompson said last night: “We had three inches of snow here this morning. We had to shut on Saturday as well because of high winds and the other two days were not good with very few people about.”

Pleasure Beach boss Albert Jones said Good Friday's attendance figures were not significantly down on last year's but they had been closed since Saturday due to their office roof being blown off in the gales. The park would be reopening today.

While Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, near Yarmouth, reported visitors 90pc down on a good Easter North Norfolk Railway was relieved to experience only a 40pc dip on last year.

General manager Geoffrey Gowing said: “We have done relatively well because we provide somewhere to go inside where people can see the scenery and weather going by.”

Nigel Croasdale, manager of Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, said it had been a quiet Easter with Sunday the worst day when snow shrunk their attendances by 50pc.

Snow drove the final nail into the coffin of the Easter weekend along the north Norfolk coast, where the main resort of Cromer was quiet yesterday.

However inland, Blickling Hall continued to draw visitors despite the weather, with trippers visiting the finale of a four-day craft fair and the historic house - though the gardens were shut at various times during the day because of conditions.

The Broads fared better than expected with Matthew Thwaites, a director of Wroxham-based Barnes Brinkcraft, reporting 80pc of pre-booked cruisers out over Easter - compared to 100pc bookings for a later Easter. However, he said yesterday's poor weather had stopped them hiring out any day boats.

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