Tourism chiefs rally behind storm-hit firms

Flood damage to Sheringham's west prom.

Flood damage to Sheringham's west prom. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norfolk's tourism chiefs have rallied behind businesses hit by the storms and stressed the need for a quick recovery to capture the winter trade.

Although it is unclear what the cost will be to the county's economy, concerns are mounting that firms are facing a double-whammy blow of pricy storm repairs and lost business while the clean-up operation takes place.

It comes as firms and shops across the region have been plagued by the strong winds and surging water, which have flooded properties and washed away – or damaged– beach huts along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

And yesterday, Norwich-based insurance-giant Aviva said it had drafted in extra staff to deal with the high number of calls linked to the storms, which have centred around broken roofs and aerials, flood damage and smashed glass.

However, leading figures from Norfolk's tourism promotional groups said it was important to state that the region is 'open for business' – although people's safety must take priority.

David Thompson, head of Visit North Norfolk, said: 'Our tourism businesses are very resilient, and tend to work very well to address the issues relating to the bad weather.

'A lot of the businesses will have clean up work to do, but most of them will come out of, although some will struggle. I just hope that visitors will still want to come out to the coast.'

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Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, said businesses needed to recover as quickly as possible because the Christmas market was a crucial.

'The point for us to stress at the moment is that, while we want visitors to stay safe at all times, we also want to remind people that Norfolk is open for business,' he said. 'It is still an important time for people to be here for our winter wildlife safari.'

He added: 'Some of the self-catering holiday cottage businesses rely on this time of year. The Christmas market is very important.'

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