Your quarterly quota of expert insight and fresh thinking.. The business magazine for Suffolk and Cambridgeshire...
21st June 2016
The UK is the eighth largest international tourism destination ranked by visitor numbers, placed behind France, USA, Spain, China, Italy, Turkey and Germany, not bad for a little island! It is also the eighth largest destination ranked by visitor expenditure, bringing £126.9bn to the UK economy, which makes up 9% of the UK GDP, so visitors are spending money once they get here.
With tourism in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex now valued at £7.7bn (according to the office of national Statistics), the industry accounts for 30% of all new jobs created in the UK since 2011, which includes 147,000 in the East of England. In Norfolk and Suffolk alone, there are 99,000 jobs in the sector.
With an astonishing 70 million day trippers heading to East Anglia each year, there is a fantastic opportunity for local tourism businesses to cash in on the action. 4.8 million visitors stayed last year, which equated to 20 million staying nights - good news for any boutique hotel and guest house owners who chose to run their businesses in the East of England. It’s amazing to think that a 2% increase in the sector spend would mean an additional £21m into the local economy.
With that number of people visiting our beautiful counties, we have a fantastic opportunity to continue the growth this sector has seen over recent years. As published in Larking Gowen’s Annual Tourism Survey, businesses in this sector are optimistic about the future, with 66% expecting an increase in turnover in 2016 and 59% anticipating higher profits. Larking Gowen celebrated the 10th year of the Survey’s publication this year, and Lloyds Banking Group has joined them in their support for this sector as one of their sponsors.
There are many positives to boast about in this country, but the one thing we can’t escape from is the weather. At least East Anglia is the driest, sunniest region of the UK, even though it may not always feel like it. 36% of the businesses who participated in Larking Gowen’s Survey said they had concerns about the influence of the weather, although the reality is that last year’s weather either had no affect on overall business performance, or a positive influence, and makes you wonder if there has been an element of weather-proofing of tourist attractions. We do need to change our mindset though, and stop talking about ‘The Season’ in order to develop the year-round economy. East Anglia is open for 12 months of the year, not 12 weeks, and not everyone is tied to school holidays. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you actively avoid them….
Local tourism businesses are lucky to have great support through Visit East Anglia, which is supported by some of the most successful tourism businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk, and is a business-led organisation promoting tourism across the counties. As part of our commitment to this sector, Lloyds Banking Group has partnered with VEA to offer concessional rates for Card Merchanding Services for any member, details of which can be found on the VEA website.
As part of the Lloyds Banking Group strategy, we recognise how important tourism is, not only to the East England Area but also to the UK economy as a whole. With 500 miles of coastline and 5 International Airports, the Eastern Counties have a lot to offer. Their lovely beaches, beautiful countryside, friendly people, and great selection of food, pubs and beer make you question why you would want to go anywhere else…….
As part of our commitment to this sector, we have created a Tourism Division with dedicated Relationship Managers to support these businesses. Optimism and investment go hand in hand, and we are keen to ensure we are there to support those businesses when they feel the time is right to make important decisions regarding the their growth plans.