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Huge demand to return to Suffolk and Norfolk’s coast and seaside according to new Visit East of England survey

Norfolk and Suffolk are likely to see a huge surge in visitors this Summer heading for the coast and seaside, according to a new survey by Visit East of England.

The Suffolk and Norfolk coasts are the top destinations, followed by Great Yarmouth, Cromer and the Broads National Park, and visitor numbers are expected to be high going into the Autumn.

Visit East of England’s survey, conducted by Destination Research, attracted over 7,500 responses with 48% saying they will visit from July to September.

79% of respondents are planning to stay overnight in Suffolk or Norfolk by the end of 2021, but 58% also say they will take a holiday abroad when they can.

Over half the respondents believe things will return to normal in the Summer or Autumn, with 45% believing the worst has passed, and 45% believing vaccination is the key to normal life returning.

The survey comes on the back of the £550,000 on-going Unexplored England campaign led by Visit East of England, working with all the destination bodies in the two counties and supported by every local authority – the first time all those organisations have worked together on a tourism promotion.

‘This Summer is looking good but there are challenging times ahead, so we’re hugely appreciative that our local councils are supporting our joint marketing activity. This survey demonstrates how important that is,’ said Visit East of England executive director Pete Waters.

‘Nonetheless, we have work to do in extending the season through to the end of 2021 and encouraging visitors safely back into our urban landscapes. Then next year we will see the return of outbound tourism. We’re also competing with every other region in the country for visitors so it’s important we maintain our marketing activity and presence,’ he added.

In the latest VisitBritain consumer survey, the East of England is now the fifth most popular place in the British Isles for visitors to go to when the lockdown ends, having been at the bottom of the 12 destinations until recently.

The survey found that visitors will feel most comfortable being outdoors, walking cycling and shopping. 76% said they would be happy to eat at a restaurant. Cleanliness, money back guarantees, and people control were considered essential when making bookings for accommodation and attractions.

‘Safety and cleanliness are paramount to reassure visitors and residents alike when we reopen and all our venues are doing everything to make sure we are ready,’ said Norfolk and Suffolk Tourist Attractions chair Martin Dupee. ‘We’re looking forward to welcoming guests back again and ensuring holidaymakers have a great, safe time.’

‘It’s wonderful to see that lots of people can’t wait to come to this region when they’re allowed, but that’s just the start,’ said Visit the Broads chair Mary Sparrow. ‘We must ensure they have a lovely time, but also that they are aware of the restrictions such as social distancing and mask wearing where required as well as respecting and protecting our natural landscapes.’

The top reasons for coming to Suffolk and Norfolk are the good beaches, easy to get to, lots of space to avoid crowds and good food and drink and places to stay.

For those not coming to Suffolk or Norfolk, the top holiday choices are Yorkshire, Cornwall, Lake District, Devon and Northumberland.

The full report can be read here.