More visitors are coming to Suffolk and Norfolk than ever as the two counties’ tourism industry bounces back spectacularly from Covid.
Figures released by Visit East of England at its annual conference show that in 2022 the visitor economy grew 49% in Suffolk and 44% in Norfolk compared to the previous year, with visitor numbers exceeding pre-Covid historic levels.
The total value of tourism in the two counties is now £5.5bn – the same figure as 2019. Suffolk’s visitor economy is back to £2.1bn and Norfolk’s is a shade under £3.4bn.
The volume of day trips increased 56% year-on-year in Suffolk and 63% in Norfolk, with the overall number of day trippers slightly up on 2019.
Overnight trips and number of nights stayed were up more than 30% over 2021, but still slightly down on 2019.
Good weather in the UK and issues impacting international travel would have contributed to the increasing numbers of visitors, but the overnight market, while up significantly year-on-year, would nonetheless have been effected by the increased cost of living, with many people taking day trips or shorter breaks.
Spending figures on staying visits were higher than 2019, possibly due to inflation.
Employment in the visitor economy had a strong return – up 29% on 2021 in Suffolk and 34% in Norfolk, and just 2% under 2019 figures.
‘Who would have anticipated a return to pre-Covid figures coming as soon as 2022?,’ said Visit East of England chairman Andy Wood OBE. ‘This demonstrates how strong and resilient our industry is, and we’ve proved ourselves to be recovering well and to be agile, resourceful, and dynamic. Collaboration has been key to that.’
He added, ‘Our sector can be a primary driver of economic growth and regeneration, but that has to be done in partnership, which is why we need to deliver a joint Suffolk-Norfolk bid to become a Local Visitor Economy Partnership which will see our tourism industry thrive long into the future.’