Hopes of a bumper Easter weekend

PUBLISHED: 07:35 10 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:48 06 July 2010

East Anglia's tourism chiefs gearing up for a bumper holiday weekend last night urged families to keep their cash “local” and take advantage of the many attractions on their doorsteps.

East Anglia's tourism chiefs gearing up for a bumper holiday weekend last night urged families to keep their cash "local" and take advantage of the many attractions on their doorstep.

They spoke of "a tremendous amount of optimism" for Norfolk's biggest industry as bookings soared, with people shunning far-flung destinations for a holiday closer to home. A good spell of weather and the economic downturn have sparked a boom, with visitors flocking to the region and people living here revisiting favourite places.

Michael Timewell, chairman of Norfolk Tourism and director of Blue Sky Leisure which runs holiday parks and restaurants, said that while the recession was hitting people's pockets, there were still plenty of inexpensive days out to be had in the area.

"The county has everything you could possibly want from a holiday destination. It is so diverse. There is something for every budget," he said.

"Holiday intentions are changing. Last year the increase in fuel prices had an impact and now with the recession and high exchange rates, people are definitely planning to stay in the UK and go local. There is a tremendous amount of optimism in Norfolk's tourism industry for the year ahead. Advance bookings are well up. We have had a significant increase in bookings for camping and touring at both Kelling Heath and Woodhill Park, East Runton.

"Easter is a great time to get out and about and enjoy what is on your doorstep with family and friends."

Tourism is Norfolk's biggest industry, employing 45,000 people and worth £2.4bn, and while other sectors have been hit by the recession, it is growing.

Bosses in Yarmouth said bookings had rocketed. Emma Day from the Richardson's Group said: "Hemsby Beach and Summerfields Chalet Parks are fully booked for Easter. Year on year, Hemsby Beach is up 40pc and Summerfields is up 60pc for sales."

James Gray, of Lost World Golf in Hemsby, said: "It has been the busiest run-up to Easter I've seen for a few years which has left us all feeling very positive for the rest of the season."

Hilary Nelson, tourism portfolio holder for North Norfolk District Council, said she expected this weekend to kick-start a great year for the district's tourism, despite the mixed weather forecast.

The news bucks a national trend highlighted in a survey conducted by Vauxhall cars, which showed that British travellers have sampled just 2pc of the towns, cities and attractions in their home country.

From today until Monday, Norwich to Liverpool Street services will be replaced by coaches between Ingatestone and London. On Sunday, the 7.25am service from Norwich to Lowestoft, and the 7.36am service from Norwich to Yarmouth, will also be replaced by buses.

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