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Stay-at-homes boosting local tourism

PUBLISHED: 07:35 28 August 2009 | UPDATED: 15:07 14 July 2010

South Norfolk's tourist industry is heading for a bumper holiday season as families shun European destinations for the county's attractions.

Holiday parks and resorts have reported an almost 40pc jump in visitor numbers during the summer months, with families opting for a 'staycation' during the economic downturn.

South Norfolk's tourist industry is heading for a bumper holiday season as families shun European destinations for the county's attractions.

Holiday parks and resorts have reported an almost 40pc jump in visitor numbers during the summer months, with families opting for a 'staycation' during the economic downturn.

Norfolk tourism bosses welcomed the news that more people are holidaying in the region instead of going abroad as a result of the recession and the poor value of the pound to the Euro.

The tourist boost has also had an impact on attractions in south Norfolk, with Banham Zoo reporting a 14pc increase in trade compared to last summer.

And South Norfolk Council has also reported a number of sold out events as part of its Festival of the Arts programme.

Martin Goymour, director of Banham Zoo, said the visitor boost would help the venue to continue to improve its facilities for its animals, which has introduced new enclosures for the giraffes and snow leopards over the last year.

“We have certainly benefited from the better weather, which is a big factor, and also assisted by the staycation. Last year was not a good year, but a 14pc increase is absolutely fantastic.”

“Obviously, it is a continual process of improving the business for the animals and this gives us confidence for the future. The winter months can be very tough in the economic climate and we are grateful we have had a good summer this year.”

Mr Goymour added that the company's caravan and camping site next to Banham Zoo had also experienced an increase in holidaymakers this year.

“People are re-examining their holidays abroad and it is good, especially for Norfolk, which has so many attractions and the coast and countryside. It has everything going for it and I think more people are exploring what Norfolk has to offer,” he said.

Martin Wilby, deputy leader of South Norfolk Council, said the local authority was justified in the investment in its summer arts festival, which is supporting this week's Harleston and Waveney Festival. He added that the festival had exceeded the council's expectations.

“We knew that times are hard out there and we could see this coming. It is very ambitious for South Norfolk Council to put all these events on, but we wanted to give something back to the people.

“We wanted to show what could be done and hopefully this will encourage organisations to stage their own events in the future,” he said.

Jane Francis, from the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum, added that visitor figures were up about 10pc this year because of more people holidaying in the area and the venue had benefitted from hosting a South Norfolk Council Festival of the Arts event.

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