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Norwich Millennium Forum

Norfolk’s tourism industry hits a record £3.25bn

Norfolk’s tourism trade has hit a new record high of £3.25bn, with more visitors coming to the county than ever.

Figures released by Visit Norfolk show the number of visitors to the county in 2017 grew by 7% and the value of tourism up 3% from £3.15bn.

Overnight visits also increased 7% to 3.3m with the number of staying nights increasing by over 1m, up 9% to 13.5m. Length of stays grew 2.4%.

The number of jobs in the county’s tourism sector rose by 3% to 65,398, accounting for 18.4% of all employment.

‘These are fantastic figures for the county, with the value of tourism increasing by more than half a billion pounds since 2012,’ said Visit Norfolk manager Pete Waters.

'We still have some way to go to be considered a top-of-mind visitor destination, but we are out-performing England as a whole and we should be confident going into a post-Brexit world. We have an unrivalled year-round offering.’

The number of day trips to the county in 2017 increased by 6% to 43.5m and the value of day trips rose 3%.

Mr Waters said the key to success was private and public sectors working together: ‘Seeing the bigger picture and being collaborative is paying dividends and marketing the county with an over-arching umbrella brand is clearly bringing success to all the destinations.’

The news comes a month after Visit Norfolk’s quarterly business monitor showed that almost three quarters of all businesses are confident about the immediate future.

Pete Waters

Martin Dupee, chair of Norfolk and Suffolk Tourist Attractions, said, ‘These figures are very encouraging but we can’t rest on our laurels. The leisure and hospitality sectors are increasingly competitive so it’s important we continue to invest in our product to stay one step ahead.’

‘There is a definite uncertainty regarding Brexit, its economic impact on those planning holidays and days out and how it is having an impact on the industry. Whilst the weaker pound has encouraged more staycations in the short term, this hasn’t benefitted the number of guests visiting attractions on days out. Some clarity from government about the future would be welcome in re-establishing optimism.’

Ruth Knight, chair of Visit the Broads, also welcomed the news: ‘We have very strong brands within the county, including the Broads, Norwich and Great Yarmouth, as well as stunning coast and countryside and superb built capital, but it’s clear that when we work together and promote the county as a whole with strong messages we can all reap the benefits.’

Martin Dupee

New Anglia LEP chief executive Chris Starkie said, ‘I’d like to think the stars are aligning for the tourism sector and its strategy to develop the year-round visitor economy and increase the number of staying visitors.

'The industry is developing quickly in Norfolk and Suffolk, there is considerable investment in the product, confidence is high, employment is up, and improvements to infrastructure, such as road and rail, will only help increase that growth.

'With Suffolk’s visitor economy now over £2bn for the first time, these figures are testament to an industry that is getting its act together.’

2017 figures

Tourism info and stats

Visit Norfolk website