Norfolk numbers rise 7% as tourism value reaches £3.25bn

Norfolk saw its visitor numbers increase by 7% in 2017, with the value of tourism rising 3% to £3.25 billion, writes Angie Cronin.

Figures released by Visit Norfolk show a 7% increase in overnight visits to 3.3 million with the number of staying nights up 9% to 13.5 million. Length of stays also grew by 2.4%.

The number of day trips to the county in 2017 increased by 6% to 43.5 million and the value of day trips rose 3%.

The number of jobs in the county’s tourism sector rose by 3% to almost 65,400, accounting for 18.4% of all employment.

Pete Waters, Visit Norfolk manager, said: “These are fantastic figures for the county, with the value of tourism increasing by more than half a billion pounds since 2012.

“We still have some way to go to be considered a top-of-mind visitor destination, but we are out-performing England as a whole and we should be confident going into a post-Brexit world. We have an unrivalled year-round offering.”

Waters said the key to success was private and public sectors working together.

“Seeing the bigger picture and being collaborative is paying dividends and marketing the county with an over-arching umbrella brand is clearly bringing success to all the destinations,” he said.

The news follows Visit Norfolk’s quarterly business monitor which showed that almost three quarters of all businesses are confident about the immediate future.

Martin Dupee, chair of Norfolk and Suffolk Tourist Attractions, said: “These figures are very encouraging but we can’t rest on our laurels. The leisure and hospitality sectors are increasingly competitive so it’s important we continue to invest in our product to stay one step ahead.

“There is a definite uncertainty regarding Brexit, its economic impact on those planning holidays and days out and how it is having an impact on the industry. Whilst the weaker pound has encouraged more staycations in the short term, this hasn’t benefitted the number of guests visiting attractions on days out. Some clarity from government about the future would be welcome in re-establishing optimism.”

New Anglia LEP chief executive Chris Starkie said: “I’d like to think the stars are aligning for the tourism sector and its strategy to develop the year-round visitor economy and increase the number of staying visitors.

“The industry is developing quickly in Norfolk and Suffolk, there is considerable investment in the product, confidence is high, employment is up, and improvements to infrastructure, such as road and rail, will only help increase that growth.

“With Suffolk’s visitor economy now over £2 billion for the first time, these figures are testament to an industry that is getting its act together.”

Pictured: Norfolk Broads near the Thurne Dyke Wind Pump. ©VisitBritain/Rod Edwards.

Home page image: Beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea. © VisitEngland/Andrew Boxall.