Great Yarmouth set for tourism boost as Burmese visitors celebrate Year of the Gull
PUBLISHED: 04:00 01 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:52 01 April 2019
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Great Yarmouth is famous for many things - its fish and chips, the Golden Mile, Joyland’s snails to name just a few.
But it’s the town’s reputation for flocks of a certain bird that will bring a group of delegates from southeast Asia to the seaside resort this summer.
This year Burmese people are celebrating the Year of the Gull - an event that comes round only every 28 years, and one that Yarmouth’s tourism industry hopes to capitalise on.
And in January, a group of officials from Myanmar - also known as Burma - visited the town after experts highlighted it as a gull hotspot.
The delegation included the southeast Asian country’s Minister for Tourism, Yone Lwal Saw, who was reportedly “thrilled” by the numbers of gulls.
It is now expected that areas including the market, the rows and Regent Road will become tourist attractions for Burmese visitors this summer.
As well as taking in Yarmouth tourism favourites such as the Pleasure Beach, they will be encouraged to tuck in to a portion of Yarmouth’s famous market chips, in the hopes of attracting the notoriously greedy gulls.
There is also hope the initiative will give a regeneration boost, as a number of abandoned buildings that have in recent years been colonised by the birds could become tourist spots for the visitors.
Chartered trips are expected to begin in July - soon after the Seabourn Quest cruise ship returns to the town.
A spokesman for Great Yarmouth tourist board, Alf Roolip, admitted that the delegates’ visit had come as a surprise, but that it was a “tremendous opportunity”.
“I can’t say it’s something we were expecting, but once we were told of the Burmese Year of the Gull, it began to make sense.
“I think it’s fantastic - our gulls can often get a bad rap, but this is a chance to turn their presence into a real money maker for Yarmouth.
“We are already looking at other ways we can make the gull a real feature of Yarmouth’s tourism offer.”
A spokesman for the Burmese government said it hoped the trip could forge new links between Great Yarmouth and Myanmar.
“The Year of the Gull is a significant and proud year for Myanmar. Gulls are known for their persistence, resilience and survival instincts, something Burmese people admire greatly.
“Our research told us that Great Yarmouth was a haven for gulls, and we would like to thank the town for their support in realising our visit,” he said.