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East of England’s visitor economy reaches new record high, with more visitors than ever

More visitors are coming to Norfolk and Suffolk than ever as the value of the two counties’ tourism industry hits a record high.

Figures released by Visit East of England show that in 2018 the visitor economy grew 2% in Suffolk and 3% in Norfolk, with a large rise in day trippers spending more money in the region.

The total value of tourism is now £5.4bn – £3.37bn in Norfolk and £2.07bn in Suffolk.

The volume of day trips increased 10% in Norfolk and 6% in Suffolk, with spend increasing 4% and 5% respectively.
In Norfolk, employment in the visitor economy grew 3% to 67,188 people and in Suffolk it grew 2% to 42,906, accounting for 19% and 14% of all jobs.

However, there was a 4% drop in the number of staying trips to Norfolk and 5% drop in Suffolk.

“Overall, the figures are excellent, with the visitor economy continuing to grow despite economic uncertainty and Brexit on the horizon, highlighting what an attractive part of the world this is for visitors,” said Visit East of England executive director Pete Waters.

“The long hot summer of 2018 resulted in more people taking days out instead of staycations, affecting the overall overnight market. Fortunately, these days out involved high levels of expenditure which has resulted in an overall increase in tourism value between 2017 and 2018.”

Norfolk and Suffolk attracted more than 83m day trippers in 2018 and 4.9m staying visitors with over 19m staying nights.

“The visitor economy thrives on confidence so it is good to see the sector growing in terms of value and employment. Nonetheless, the sooner the political uncertainty in Britain is sorted the better,” said Visit East of England chairman Andy Wood OBE. “There is significant investment going into tourism and hospitality businesses, but the latest figures demonstrate that we have more work to do. That’s why it’s important we work collaboratively and with a common mission.”

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership chief executive Chris Starkie said, “While it is good news that the overall visitor economy grew in 2018, we need to convert day trippers to stay visitors and develop the year-round visitor economy to help overcome the perception that tourism is seasonal, low-skilled and low-paid.”

Visit East of England, which operates Visit Norfolk and Visit Suffolk, is working closely with the New Anglia LEP, local authorities and destination marketing organisations to align the regional visitor economy with the ambitions of the Government Tourism Sector Deal that was announced in June.

“The government’s Tourism Zones will bring businesses and local organisations together to establish a coordinated strategy for growth in their local visitor economy and to increase one-off visits. A successful bid for this status would not only help our region focus on its tourism offer and extend the tourism season but invest in skills to boost productivity,” added Mr Starkie.

Visit Norfolk 2018 Economic Impact of Tourism results.
Visit Suffolk 2018 Economic Impact of Tourism results.