Bumper holiday boost for Lowestoft and Southwold
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Tourism chiefs in Waveney were riding high this week after the district saw a bumper number of visitors over the bank holiday weekend.
Waveney's £253m annual tourism industry received a massive boost as families flocked to enjoy Lowestoft and Southwold's beaches and surrounding attractions as they made the most of the sunshine before schools start.
Holiday parks and attractions, such as Southwold Pier and Pleasurewood Hills, have reaped the benefits of attracting large numbers of visitors, which follows a high profile tourism campaign to draw even more holidaymakers to north Suffolk.
The Waveney Tourism Forum had sent out more than 30,000 information guides across the country to promote the 'Sunrise Coast' campaign and its website had seen a surge in interest from people eager to see what was on offer for their trips.
Bernard Reader, the chairman of the Waveney Tourism Forum and owner of Heathland Beach Caravan Park at Kessingland, was delighted to see holidaymakers and trippers had descended en masse to the Lowestoft and Southwold areas.
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He said: 'We had a really, really busy bank holiday indeed and it was nice to see so many people enjoying themselves.
'I am sure all the publicity helped and the good bank holiday is also due to the weather and all the improvements and work that has gone into holiday accommodation and attractions.
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'At Heathland Beach we are enjoying our 40th anniversary and we have continually developed to exceed customer expectations. This year included improving the facilities around the pool.
My colleagues in the forum continue to do the same.'
At Pleasurewood Hills there were queues of up to an hour-and-a-half at its new £500,000 Hobs Pit ride over the weekend as crowds of people travelled to the theme park to enjoy its rides, which include the ever-popular Wipeout.
As well as Hobs Pit the park's owners, the Looping Group, are investing about £3m at the park, including the Moby Dick ride, Pedalos and a tea cup ride.
And the park's general manager Alex Camelin was pleased to see the investment was already bearing fruit.
He said: 'It has gone really, really well.
'We had about 3,500 people each day over the weekend and we exceeded last year's visitor numbers. Hobs Pit proved to be very popular, people were queuing for an hour and an hour-and-a-half to go on it.
'It has taken until August for people to realise what we have been doing at Pleasurewood Hills since we took over and they can see we are heading in the right direction.'
At Africa Alive in Kessingland the wildlife park had a new addition to welcome its army of visitors – a baby giraffe, which was born earlier this month.
Kirsty Chapman, operations manager at Africa Alive and a member of the Waveney Tourism Forum, said: 'The bank holiday has been fantastic. We could not have asked for better weather.
'The whole area seemed alive with visitors. Our baby giraffe was a brilliant pull for us.
'It was as good a weekend than we have had and was a very strong bank holiday for us.
'The Waveney Tourism Forum has distributed more than 30,000 guides on request and there has been an increase in traffic at www.visit-sunrisecoast.co.uk 'The weather has also helped this summer.'
As well as the attractions, families made their way to Lowestoft's beach, which is the only one in Suffolk to gain Blue Flag status for its quality.
Tony Gittins, who runs the Sandcastle Guest House on Lowestoft's Marine Parade, said: 'The good weather has been a boost for us and it will help with future bookings as people enjoyed themselves here.'
In Southwold over the bank holiday, families and holidaymakers could be seen enjoying the town's seafront and iconic pier as the sun shone.
It was the first summer for the Southwold Pier's new owner, Robert Gough of Gough Hotels Ltd.
A spokesman for the company said: 'We had an exceptional weekend and were very busy.'
It was also the first season for the new owners of the Southwold Boating Lake and Café, David and Penny Ball.
Mr Ball said: 'We were very busy over the weekend. I think Southwold has a very strong reputation as a tourist destination and there has been a lot of work put in to keep that reputation going.'
In Waveney tourism is worth about £253m a year and supports 12pc of jobs in the district.