Summer is saved! Resort braced for 'full-on' season

Impresario Peter Jay owner of Hippodrome Circus

Peter Jay is predicting good things for Great Yarmouth this summer after the government set out its path out of lockdown. - Credit: Nick Warner

Great Yarmouth is bracing itself for a staycation surge with visitors spending their pent-up pounds in the town's clubs, bars, theatres and shops.

Tourism bosses have shared their delight after Boris Johnson outlined his roadmap for lifting national lockdown - giving the town the green light to fully reopen from June 21.

And with its fortune's taking a turn for the better council chiefs hope the new "Yarmouth Eye" big wheel, standing head and shoulders above everything else, will help fuel those high hopes.

Big wheel Great Yarmouth

A 50m big wheel is heading to Great Yarmouth this summer. It is being billed as Covid-safe and an extra reason for people to visit the resort. - Credit: GYBC

Peter Jay, of the town's famous Hippodrome Circus, said it was a "punching the air" moment after a year of uncertainty.

And although it meant losing another Easter it was worth it to be able to operate at full capacity during the peak season, he added.

"I think the summer is going to be fantastic," he said.

"Yarmouth is going to be packed. I am feeling a lot better about it all now, to lose another summer would have been disastrous for the whole town.

"Having a full summer will be fabulous."

The beach clean will start by Britannia Pier Picture: James Bass

The Britannia Pier is hoping to finally open this summer with Jimmy Carr among those topping the bill. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

At Yarmouth's Britannia Pier it means acts including Jimmy Carr, Sarah Millican and Jim Davidson can perform to holiday crowds, the theatre having been closed since March last year.

Manager Keegan Snell said there had already been an uptick in ticket sales which was "pretty encouraging".

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"It is looking good at the moment," he said.

"If restrictions allow the acts will be coming. From day one we have been very cautious. We shut all the clubs down before we got told to.

"But people are ready to come back out now and the numbers are going down.

"It is going to be a good summer."

Albert Jones, Managing Director at Pleasure Beach Great Yarmouth. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Albert Jones is delighted that things are likely to look up this summer after lockdown is lifted. - Credit: Archant

Albert Jones of Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach was also upbeat.

He said the roadmap laying out an exit plan for lockdown was "a massive step forward" and that he was "absolutely delighted."

He added it was a shame to lose Easter with it falling so early but in the long run if it came at the price of saving summer it would be all worthwhile.

Under the government's roadmap he would be able to open from April 12 and was looking to welcome visitors the weekend after.

However, he said he would be sticking to the booked sessions introduced last summer to limit numbers, enabling the business to remain flexible if the situation changed.

Paul Garrod of The Furzedown Hotel which has seen a surge in bookings ahead of the July 4 lockdown l

Paul Garrod at the Furzedown Hotel is already picking up summer bookings after the Prime Minister laid out his lockdown exit plan. - Credit: James Bass

Meanwhile Paul Garrod a the Furzedown Hotel spent the hours after Monday's lockdown easing announcement cancelling bookings in March, April and May having banked on an Easter opening.

However he said 80pc of those had rebooked.

"I think it is going to be a good summer," he said. "And we need it."

"People had a taste of it last year.

"A lot of people came who wouldn't normally and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

"The outlook from May 17 is pretty good."

Ben Jay (left) and Kelly Evans, directors of the Ocean Rooms in Gorleston. Photo: Howard Marshall

Ben Jay (left) and Kelly Evans, directors of the Ocean Rooms in Gorleston. Photo: Howard Marshall - Credit: Archant

At Gorleston's Ocean Room - home of  Bongo Bingo - there was still a lot of detail to work through but operators were hoping some of the sit-down events could start again as early as May 17 with club nights resuming from June 21.

Ben Jay said they were "hugely excited" to be re-opening possibly with a new decking and restaurant area in the pipeline.

The Ocean Room nightclub in Gorleston, now run in partnership between Kelly Evans and her cousin Ben

The Ocean Room in Gorleston is working out how it can bring back its varied programme of events. - Credit: Archant

"We need to see how the public feel about it," he added. "We are not going to be irresponsible and want to make sure everyone is happy with it and that people who come in will be able to party in a safe way."

At Great Yarmouth Racecourse director Glenn Tubby said it was too early to put key dates like Ladies Day on the calendar.

"We will see the public back on our racecourse this year," he said.

"Initially it will be in reduced numbers, but I do not know when that will be."

Council leader Carl Smith also has high hopes for the summer.

"All our hotels will be full and people will come and see the great things we have to offer.

"We have some fantastic attractions and lots of heritage as well as the new wheel, the Pleasure Beach, and fantastic beaches."

In terms of festivals it was too early to be sure of what could yet go ahead.

The Maritime Festival had definitely been cancelled for 2021 but there was still a chance for the Wheels Festival which had been moved to September, he said.

After the first lockdown ended Great Yarmouth was well supported with a busy seafront proving a demand for all the town had to offer.

"We had a fantastic few weeks and we are looking for the same bounce," he added.