Back in April, three members of the Wayland Chamber were at Hunters Hall for the launch of the annual Larking and Gowen Tourism and Business Survey. It was an informative and enlightening event with presentations from some of the key players in the leisure and tourism sector including Hoseasons, Adnams and Visit East Anglia.
The afternoon was chaired by Chris Scargill, tourism partner with Larking and Gowen, who presented many of the key headline figures of the survey conducted earlier this year across the region. Data was gathered from a year that saw East Anglia enjoying more sunshine hours than the rest of the UK; with a summer that carried on during September with temperatures more than 2.7 C above average for the month. It was also conducted in a period of great change and uncertainty, with Brexit and the surprise US election result. It was against this backdrop that the findings of the survey come into focus – with opportunities for both optimism and concern – especially for some businesses finding the introduction of the national living wage a challenge. One thing that was clear from the survey is that the majority of businesses feel that the government is not doing enough to support the sector – with only a handful of our region’s MPs in favour of scrapping VAT in the sector.
An interesting positive is the growth in tourism from the US related to the “Friendly Invasion” during WW2. Pete Waters from Visit East Anglia is hopeful that the HBO film series “The Masters of the Air” now in production by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, will generate even more visitors in the years to come, and aired a video that the organisation has developed to promote themed tours to our region.
Throughout the survey findings and the presentations made by other speakers it became clear that marketing, particularly online, is now key to running a successful business in the tourism industry. A responsive website is vital, as over 70% of visitors leave a site if it cannot be viewed properly on a mobile or tablet, and using social media – particularly Facebook and Instagram – is now an essential part of the marketing mix.
You can download a full copy of the report by clicking the photo below: