Norfolk tourism is looking healthy
Credit Crunch: Norfolk tourism
As the credit crunch makes holidays abroad less attractive, Norfolk's tourism industry is set for a significant boost in 2009. Michael Timewell, chairman for Norfolk Tourism, explains how it will be a good year for deckchairs and dinghys.
The credit crunch is affecting not just how people work, but also how people are spending their leisure time, with many people having to budget more carefully than in 2008.
A sign of hope for Norfolk is that it is well placed to avoid the bite of the credit crunch in 2009, due to its thriving potential to draw in tourists.
The new year hopes to attract visitors from Northern Europe and UK residents who have not spent their holidays in Great Britain since the dawn of cheap air travel.
Michael Timewell, chairman for Norfolk Tourism, explains how tourism in Norfolk is hoping to prosper in 2009, due to the devaluation of the pound and the vast quantity of inexpensive accommodation and attractions the county already houses.
An exchange rate in Norfolk's favour
The lowering value the pound is the most important factor in propelling people towards the east coast from all over the world.
"If you look in the perspective of drawing inbound visitors into the country, the low value of the pound is one of the pluses, because it is cheaper for them to buy," said Michael.
"It is always hard bringing in more visitors from overseas, but hopefully the work we have been doing over the years as a county with the East of England Tourism Board and our partners will bear some fruit in 2009," he added.
Research by the tourist board also shows that travellers from the UK are going to be choosing Cromer over Copenhagen and Norfolk over Norway.
"People love coming to Norfolk and it has a great following. With the exchange rate working against foreign holidays at the moment, all the research shows that people will be changing their holiday habits and reviewing their budgets," said Michael.
"Tourists in 2009 are going to be taking fewer holidays, but ultimately they are going to be choosing Norfolk. Norfolk has a stock of quality accommodation and attractions.
The Norfolk Broads could benefit
"We have a fantastic unspoilt coastline, beautiful countryside, the unique waterways of the Broads, thriving coastal resorts, beautiful market towns and villages and the very vibrant capital city of Norwich," he added.
Coastal towns, such as Great Yarmouth, are most likely to benefit.
"There's some interesting things happening. The harbour at Great Yarmouth is a potential hope for us," said Michael.
"It's not just Dutch visitors we are targeting to visit Norfolk, but you have to look at all the countries that border the North Sea, such as Germany. Once we get them to take that one extra step, they'll see that we are really good value here.
"People from abroad often get into the region at Harwich and find their way here. We're not invisible to the people in northern Europe at all," he added.
Taking that money further
Michael believes that the hard money earned by people in the UK will go far and fit well into people's limited budgets.
"It depends what level you go at as to how much money you spend. Norfolk, we believe, is very well placed to attract visitors in 2009," said Michael.
"It is already a popular county with tourism earning some £2.4 billion every year and attracting a huge number of staying visitors and day trippers.
"There's a bulk of accommodation and attractions that won't 'cost the earth'. It has also never been easier to find out information about them," he added.
Different points of view
Even though all the signs point towards a healthier tourist industry for Norfolk, some some holiday businesses around the county are dubious.
Some businesses are still doubtful
"January we are very cautious about, probably like most businesses, although it is believed people in 2009 are going to book later. We'll just have to wait and see," said Peter Buckell, from the Norfolk holiday firm Global Travel Lounge.
Good weather in 2009 is key to deciding the success of Norfolk tourism.
"I imagine families will be taking more day trips to the seaside, especially if we have good weather, so we could see local businesses benefit.
"I think Norfolk will be particularly strong on the day trip and attractions market and maybe we will see an increase in short breaks as well," said Nick Mobbs, from the Imperial Hotel in Great Yarmouth.
"I think the massive decreases in the valuation of the pound that we've seen against the dollar and the euro is bound to affect holidays in 2009.
"My family and I have booked a holiday in February to go skiing in Europe, but if there was pound to euro parity when I booked it eight or nine months ago, I would have thought twice," he added.
One Great Yarmouth attraction is already bucking the recession and starting to invest in the future.
"We've opened up a piece of land with £54,000 worth of developments, including new toilets, extra catering and a picnic area.
"We believe in our product - 2008 saw our record year. The start of the 2009 season, Great Yarmouth is back!" said Peter Williamson at the Merrivale Model Village on Great Yarmouth seafront.
Companies should start marketing now
Surviving the crunch
Michael feels businesses should act now in order to profit from the potential tourist surge.
"Don't cut back on the marketing. Make sure you're on the portal websites – Visit Norfolk, Visit Norwich and your District Council's own website, such as the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority website.
"Make sure your adverts are in advertising guides. Be ready, be there and get out there as quickly as you can," said Michael.
last updated: 02/01/2009 at 17:10