Yarmouth set for summer boom

EAST Anglia is getting ready for a bumper holiday season with a dramatic surge in bookings for hotels, campsites and Broads boats.Early statistics from the region's tourism industry, worth �2.

EAST Anglia is getting ready for a bumper holiday season with a dramatic surge in bookings for hotels, campsites and Broads boats.

Early statistics from the region's tourism industry, worth �2.4bn a year, suggest the weak pound is leading recession-hit Brits to shun continental holidays and look closer to home - and one survey suggests nostalgia for childhood holidays could bring thousands more to Norfolk.

Great Yarmouth hotels are reporting summer bookings as much as 20pc up on last year, one award-winning Broadland campsite is already fully booked for the high season and Waveney District Council has had to print an extra 10,000 copies of its Sunrise Coast brochure due to demand.

In west Norfolk, Searles Leisure Group in Hunstanton, reports year-on-year bookings up 12pc at its leisure resort.

Director Andrew Searle said: “We are feeling very positive about this year. People always take a holiday and more people are staying in this country because of the strong euro. Bookings are doing well and sales of holiday homes are picking up too."

Kirsty Burn, Yarmouth tourism's marketing manager, said: “It's looking like being a fabulous season for Yarmouth and the whole region.

Most Read

“Our new on-line booking system only went live on February 10 with just three accommodation establishments on-line. We now have 15 and have already taken 25 online bookings amounting to 52 nights, many for Easter and some for August.

“Our website key performance indicators indicate that self-catering properties are extremely sought after with more than 250,000 page views recorded in January and February.”

Linda Dyble, who runs the Kensington hotel, in Marine Parade, is one of several Yarmouth hoteliers to report advanced bookings up to 20pc up on last year.

She said: “That increase is from May right through to September, it is not just the peak summer weeks. A few people booking have told me it is because they are giving Europe a miss this year.”

John Lindsay, who runs the award-winning Clippesby Hall caravan and family touring site in Clippesby, near Acle, reported that his 100 pitches and 18 cottages were already booked up for the peak season.

He said: “In our 30 years we have never been booked up so far in advance before like this. Hopefully it is a sign that people will be staying in this country this summer.”

Manor Farm Caravan and Camping Site, in East Runton, near Cromer, is also reporting bookings up on last year but its spokesman remains cautious because of the possible impact of the recession and redundancies.

DRL Marine, a family-run boat hire company in Ludham, near Yarmouth, has restarted after a 12-year break and due to early demand has increased its number of boats from nine to 15, and its permanent workforce from three to five.

Co-owner Darren Lewis said the slump in the pound and the Broads Authority's new tourism campaign were both key factors.

Paul Greasley, managing-director of Norfolk Broads Direct, the second biggest Broads boat hire firm, with 160 craft at Wroxham and Potter Heigham, also reported “very encouraging early bookings”.

Commenting on the surge in brochure demand in Waveney, Wendy Mawer, the council's portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “This news certainly supports claims that more people are going to be holidaying at home this summer.

“This is great news for the local industry and we are delighted that others are discovering what we already know - that Waveney is a fantastic place to visit.”

Martin Goymour, director of Banham Zoo, near Diss, and Africa Alive, near Lowestoft, has statistics to back up his optimism that “everything is set fair for an excellent year for East Anglia tourism”.

He said: “The best time we have had at Banham was in the middle of the last recession in 1993 and we did very well in the 1970s recession too. When the economy is doing badly, leisure attractions tend to do well with people holidaying at home.”