Tourism sector hopes for busy holiday season as lockdown eases
PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:43 28 June 2020
Tourism operators across north Norfolk are looking forward to a busy summer season in the build up to July 4, when they, restaurants and hotels can open.
Many attractions have had to shut down entirely for the past three months of lockdown, and are now keen to make up lost ground.
Among them is Penny Jones from Crabpot Cottages, which has 23 self-catering accommodations between Brancaster and Mundesley.
Mrs Jones said: “It’s been a pretty desperate three months for us but we’re now taking bookings, the phones are ringing again which is fantastic.”
She said they were offering a new short-term cancellation policy to give people more confidence to book.
James Knight, director of Wroxham-based boat hire service Norfolk Broads Direct, said: “We can’t bring back April, May and June, but there should be good demand for domestic tourism and it looks like we’ll have a decent summer and autumn. We’re staying positive, and hope that there isn’t a second spike [of coronavirus].”
Mrs Jones, Mr Knight and almost 30 other business owners in north Norfolk’s tourism sector had the chance to quiz Nigel Huddleston, minister for arts, heritage, and tourism, in a Zoom video call last week.
The group discussed issues including VAT for the hospitality industry, business interruption insurance, and the postcode lottery where some local authorities have been better than others in distributing government grants to businesses.
Also among them was Raul Fraser, who owns Golden Beach Caravan Park in Sea Palling. Mr Fraser said the virtual meeting was constructive.
He said: “Someone asked him a question about hotels and how much they were struggling. [The minister] said ‘we’re not going to be able to support everyone but we’re going to try’. As businesses we’ve been very grateful for the government’s support.”
Golden Beach has 130 static caravans which are all owned by people who normally live off the site.
Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, who hosted the call, said: “Tourism is an important part of the north Norfolk economy and coronavirus has hit us particularly hard.
“Initial signs are that – in spite of three months of lost trade – the summer will be a vibrant and busy one as visitors cautiously engage with the ‘staycation’ culture.”