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Sun and Brexit boost for Great Yarmouth holiday industry

Gareth Brown, chairman of the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement District

Tourism in the Great Yarmouth area had a strong year – boosted by a combination of sunny weather and Brexit gloom.

And the area’s tourism chiefs are looking forward to more of the same in 2017, with the bonus of the new air show which is expected to swell visitor numbers by up to an extra 300,000 people in June.

The Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area team is playing a major role in promoting the resort and surrounding villages by funding events and increased marketing.

Its chairman Gareth Brown, who is also general manager of the Haven Caister Holiday Park, said: “People from hotels, restaurants and attractions are saying they had a very strong year.

“In this business you can never say exactly why, but the weather was good into September and October, and Brexit had an impact. Here at Haven it was really quiet in the two weeks after the vote, but since then it has been record bookings.
“People are enjoying the Great British seaside, our wonderful heritage, along with all the attractions and services we have to offer,” he explained.

A party of 50 levy payers from the Business Improvement District (BID), and councillors, have recently been on a study visit to Weston-super-Mare to swap seaside tourism experience and expertise with their counterparts in the West Country.

A gala dinner was held on the pier which has had a £40m rebuild after being devastated by fire in 2008, there were meetings with tourism representatives from the resort and also in Bath and at Wookey Hole.

Mr Brown said: “We share information, think about what we are doing and what we can learn. The size of our 50-person party shows what a strong, close community we have in Great Yarmouth. All these people were willing to pay for a trip to learn from other resorts in the UK.
“Trips like this strengthen the bond among the levy payers and reinforces how lucky we are in having an active BID.
“We had two people on the trip who were initially against the BID but after 18 months they have been won over with our work, seen how the BID has a positive effect, and came on the trip.”

BID funding has enhanced events, such as expanded fireworks displays and moving parts of the Out There Festival to the seafront. It is also increasing marketing, including short films showing the area’s attractions and people working in the tourism industry.

The new Haven Great Yarmouth Air Show in 2017 was progressing well, with people “talking about it, and booking holidays to coincide with it,” said Mr Brown.
An estimated 1m people stay overnight in the Greater Yarmouth area, and there are nearly 6m day trippers, generating more than £591m for the economy – providing a third of the area’s wealth and jobs.

To learn more about the BID and its work visit the website and for information about tourism including accommodation and event dates see www.great-yarmouth.co.uk