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Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston sees tourism recovery in the East of England

Visit East of England Executive Director Pete Waters and Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston on Mousehold Heath, Norwich.

Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston had a day trip to Norfolk on Monday, August 17 and discovered that businesses are working hard to reassure visitors that the county is ‘Good To Go’.

The MP visited some of Norfolk’s top visitor attractions and destinations, beginning with two Norman masterpieces in Norwich, the 900-year-old Cathedral, soon to host the National History Museum’s Dippy the Dinosaur, and Castle.

Nigel Huddleston MP with Norwich Cathedral Dean Jane Hedges.

Norfolk County Council Director of Culture & Heritage Steve Miller detailed the work now beginning on a £13.5m National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported ‘Gateway to Medieval England’ redevelopment of the Keep to how it looked as a 12th-century Royal palace.

Nigel Huddleston MP (centre) with (l to r) Norfolk County Council Director of Culture & Heritage Steve Miller, Norwich Castle ‘Gateway to Medieval England’ Project Manager Hannah Jackson, Visit East of England Executive Director Pete Waters, New Anglia LEP Chief Executive Chris Starkie.

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership chief executive Chris Starkie met the minister at the Castle and explained the LEP’s Tourism Recovery Plan, which was developed with the help of Norfolk and Suffolk local authorities and Destination Marketing Organisations, and informed by a Visit East of England Tourism Business Survey which attracted 776 responses.

Project Manager Hannah Jackson explains Norwich Castle’s ‘Gateway to Medieval England’ redevelopment to Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston MP.

The MP, invited by Visit East of England and hosted by VEE executive director Pete Waters, then went on the Merlin Entertainments-owned Sea Life Centre at resort town Great Yarmouth, where he met Norfolk County Council deputy leader Graham Plant who outlined the authorities’ £2.225m Tourism Sector Support Package from the Norfolk Strategic Fund.

 Nigel Huddleston MP is given a tour of the Sea Life Centre, Great Yarmouth by manager Terri Harris.

Mr Waters said, “Government financial packages have helped kickstart business recovery and it is clear from the large number of visitors the minister has seen today that there is an appetite to get out and about again and enjoy our superb tourism offering in the region. But reassurance and safety are paramount. We can’t allow a second Covid-19 spike because that will end tourism for 2020 and many businesses will not survive. So the message remains, enjoy your visit but please ‘Stay alert’ and adhere to social distancing rules.”

Nigel Huddleston MP meets James and Ruth Knight from Norfolk Broads Direct at Wroxham.

At Wroxham, in the Broads National Park, Ruth and James Knight, directors of one of the largest boat operators Norfolk Broads Direct, told Mr Huddleston of the lengths businesses are going to reassure visitors that their holidays and day trips can be as safe as possible.

Nigel Huddleston MP enjoys Cromer crab with Tracy and Galton Blackiston of No 1 Restaurant Cromer and North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker.

The final stop of the day-long tour was Cromer, where bad weather caught up with the minister on the Victorian pier, home of the world’s last end-of-pier theatre which is reopening this weekend. Before he left, Mr Huddleston enjoyed the famous Cromer crab, with samphire and cockle popcorn at No 1 Cromer, owned and run by Michelin-starred Galton Blackiston and wife Tracy of nearby Morston Hall, and learned more about the Deep History Coast.

Businesses the minister visited are advocates of the VisitBritain industry standard ‘We’re Good To Go’ and also ‘Know Before You Go’.

Minister for Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston said:

“Our tourism industry offers incredible experiences to those who holiday here and it supports millions of jobs up and down the country.

“It was brilliant to visit Norfolk to hear about all the important work being undertaken to ensure that visitors are able to enjoy attractions like Norwich Cathedral and the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre safely.

“The tourism sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus and we have helped with an unprecedented package of measures including the job retention scheme, a years’ business rates holiday and most recently a £4 billion reduction in VAT benefitting the sector.

“I encourage everyone to do their bit to boost tourism and Enjoy Summer Safely, and experience everything England has to offer.”