August wash-out hits tourist trade

TOURISM in Suffolk has been badly hit by this summer's heavy rainfall - nearly three times heavier than expected - which has brought visitor numbers to many attractions down by up to 15pc.

TOURISM in Suffolk has been badly hit by this summer's heavy rainfall - nearly three times heavier than expected - which has brought visitor numbers to many attractions down by up to 15pc.

The sunny weather in May and June meant a promising start to the season for the county's tourist businesses.

But since the start of the school holidays, heavy rain and an uncertain economic climate have meant a drop in numbers for many places which rely on a bump in trade over summer.

Rainfall in August has been between 2.5 and 2.9 times higher than the average for this time of year, with up to 145mm of rain falling since the start of the month.


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Pleasurewood Hills theme park is one of the attractions which was hoping for a better peak summer season.

Alexis Camelin, general manager at the theme park, said: 'We've had a decent season altogether but we were expecting to do a lot better. The problem is the weather - August has been absolutely terrible.

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'It's been very wet which is disappointing because we were expecting more holiday makers this year.'

Stephen Bournes, owner of Southwold Pier, said: 'We had an early summer which was really good but we lost a lot of weekends to bad weather so it's been hard work this year.

'May and June were nice but as soon as the children broke up in July, the weather's been all over the place which makes it difficult to know how many staff to put on.'

But the news is not all bad for the region's tourist attractions as some have found ways to benefit from the inclement weather.

The Suffolk Punch Trust visitor centre at Hollesley, near Woodbridge, opened in March this year and has found its indoor exhibitions have been popular with families looking for activities on rainy days.

General manager Jo Cresdee said: 'The weather's actually been very helpful to us because we have got a lot of undercover areas so because a lot of people aren't going out to the beach they are coming here for the day instead'

And the area's historic highlights are continuing to attract people from the UK and abroad, with the weak pound meaning good exchange rates for foreign visitors.

Jeff Burroughs, of the River Stour Trust, which works to conserve the river made famous by artists such as John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough, said the river on the Suffolk-Essex border was continually attracting new people.

'We are definitely seeing new people coming to the river and there are always new faces and people travelling here for some distance to paddle.'

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