Tough year for region’s tourism firms but most remain optimistic about the future

Visit Norfolk Chairman Mark Durrant(left) and Brand Manager Pete Waters(right) with Chris Scargill who presented the...

Visit Norfolk Chairman Mark Durrant(left) and Brand Manager Pete Waters(right) with Chris Scargill who presented the results of the 2013 Larking Gowen Tourism Business Survey at the new Visit Norfolk presentation. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Rain and the Olympics dominated the fortunes of Norfolk's tourism industry last year - but despite a challenging 12 months nearly 75pc of businesses in the sector are feeling positive about the future.

Those were among the key findings from this year's EDP/Larking Gowen Tourism Business survey.

More than 200 representatives from tourism business across Norfolk attended the event at the John Innes Centre in Norwich to learn about this year's findings.

Now in its seventh year, the survey covered Suffolk for the first time, as well as Norfolk,

The industry is Norfolk's largest employer and generates more than £2bn from the local economy.

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And the session also heard from Pete Waters brand manager of Visit Norfolk, about the newly formed organisation can help the county's tourism businesses.

'We have got 200 people here - the creme de la creme of our tourism businesses,' he said. 'We have a wonderful opportunity to work together.

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'It all comes down to your hard work and we are there to work with you for the benefit of your business.

Although suffering compared to previous years, the survey found turnover still increased for 39pc of businesses in 2012, with a slightly lower figure (37pc) reporting a fall.

Despite the disappointments of last summer, businesses are predicting stable employment numbers for the coming year with 77pc saying staffing levels are likely to remain unchanged, with 10pc foreseeing an increase and 13pc a cut.

But there was less positive news for the region's MPs as 70pc of respondents in Norfolk said that no political party was interested in tourism issues.

Chris Scargill, from Larking Gowen, said: 'It's easily the biggest industry and I'm not convinced that the MPs representing this county actually recognise that.'

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