Council tourism chief voices 2021 staycation hopes

Felixstowe beach on day one of the reduced lockdown rules Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Hopes are high for staycations to boost East Suffolk tourism businesses - Credit: Archant

East Suffolk Council's tourism chief has voiced high hopes for a staycation boom this summer to help local firms recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Large swathes of the tourism and leisure industry have had to shut down or been severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions since the pandemic struck in March 2020.

But as the government's roadmap out of restrictions continues, East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for communities, leisure and tourism, Letitia Smith, has said she hopes more staycations will be coming to the Suffolk coast.

"We have learned the word staycation this year," she told Thursday night's scrutiny committee.

East Suffolk Council cabinet member for communities, leisure and tourism, Letitia Smith

East Suffolk Council cabinet member for communities, leisure and tourism, Letitia Smith - Credit: East Suffolk Council

"Once we came out of the second lockdown lots of people reported it was very hard to find anywhere to book so lots of people stayed local, and I imagine the same will happen right through to the end of the year.

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"I hope it does because it will give our businesses a chance to recover from their loss of income."

Data prior to Covid estimated that tourism was worth between £672million and £692m per year for East Suffolk, and included more than 12m day trips and 2.6m overnight stays.

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According to Destination Research data, that supported more than 10,000 jobs directly related to tourism with nearly 15% of all East Suffolk employment within the tourism sector.

Ms Smith said: "I want us to have the greatest tourist destinations - which I believe we have. Our coast is a heritage coast, people come from all over the world to retire, to move to, to holiday at, and I feel very confident we have that."

People enjoyed the sunshine in Felixstowe on the first day of the ease of lockdown restrictions. P

East Suffolk Council hopes beach visitors will return this summer - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The authority works alongside the destination management organisation (The Suffolk Coast DMO) to promote East Suffolk destinations, including key seaside locations like Felixstowe, Southwold and Lowestoft, with Ms Smith confirming more work was happening there to promote both employment and family visits.

More work is to begin this summer on that, while existing Covid measures such as social distancing signposting will remain in place.

She said campaigns will be "to send positive messages to encourage people to go out but encourage them to be sensible as well".

More Covid-19 restrictions eased this week, with the final stage of the roadmap currently planned for June 21 if the data indicates it is safe to do so.

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