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East Anglia Future 50

Tourism bosses express Brexit fears ahead of crunch Commons vote

PUBLISHED: 12:19 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:19 11 March 2019

Norfolk and Suffolk's tourism leaders have expressed their fears over the impact of Brexit on the sector.  L-R David Field, Jo Nicholls, Sue Tasker, Andy Wood, Tarnia Robertson, Richard Turvill, Chris Scargill, Ruth Knight, Judith Phillips.

Norfolk and Suffolk's tourism leaders have expressed their fears over the impact of Brexit on the sector. L-R David Field, Jo Nicholls, Sue Tasker, Andy Wood, Tarnia Robertson, Richard Turvill, Chris Scargill, Ruth Knight, Judith Phillips.

Bosses at some of the region's biggest attractions have voiced their concerns about the impact of Brexit on the "tourist pound" ahead of a series of crunch votes in the Commons.

The fears were expressed by the heads of some of the region’s attractions and businesses supporting the tourism sector who gathered recently to launch the new Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Business Survey.

This week could prove momentous as Britain prepares to quit the European Union with votes on the prime minister’s deal, no-deal Brexit and potentially extending Article 50.

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Richard Turvill, Camplings Linen   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNRichard Turvill, Camplings Linen Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Richard Turvill, owner of family-run Camplings Linen, based in Great Yarmouth, said leaving the EU could make it even harder to recruit staff.

“Our business is very labour intensive and is about logistics, we are moving vast numbers of items around. We are very reliant on the people who work for us, 60-65% who are not local, and we are finding it harder to find good people.”

This firm launders linen ranging from restaurant napkins to bedding for hotels and other large venues. Mr Turvill explained how the firm send an 18 ton truck each day to just one venue, Center Parcs at Elveden Forest, for the linen from 4,500 beds.

Judith Phillips, owner of Kentwell Hall.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJudith Phillips, owner of Kentwell Hall. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We are an unglamorous but essential service,” he said.

David Field, CEO of the Zoologial Society of East Anglia, heading up Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!, said: “It’s actually about thinking ‘how do we make the most of Brexit?’ What is the impact on the tourist pound? People will still pay but are looking for the best value they can get.”

He said they had decided not to put up admission prices and had introduced a two-year pass offering better value.

Judith Phillips, owner of Kentwell Hall, a Suffolk stately home, said it was vital to come up with fresh ideas to attract visitors. This venue holds Scaresville, an event centred around the hall around Halloween, which has been a huge success.

David Field, CEO of the Zoological Society of East Anglia. Pic: Archant.David Field, CEO of the Zoological Society of East Anglia. Pic: Archant.

Tarnia Robertson, managing director of Ufford Park Hotel, on the Suffolk coast, said people’s spending was definitely being impacted. “We have noticed that people are booking much more at the last minute which makes it harder to judge whether you are going to hit your budget.”

She said they were investing heavily in training of staff to offer outstanding customer service.

To take part in the survey click here

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