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Businesses told to get ready to profit from the summer's events

Tuesday, 24th April 2012.

Tourists looking for 'distinctive experiences' around here pose a real opportunity for businesses during 2012, the boss of Visit East Anglia told Chamber members on Friday.

Keith Brown, chief executive of Visit East Anglia (VEA), addressed members at a joint Haverhill and Newmarket Chamber of Commerce breakfast networking event at Palace House in Newmarket.

He outlined how Visit East Anglia could work with local businesses on maximising the opportunities including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Queen's Jubilee celebration.

He said: “Tourists are increasingly looking for locally distinctive experiences rather than mainstream attractions and in Suffolk we have this in spades.

“High fuel and transport costs are also encouraging people to explore more destinations closer to home and the demand for good quality accommodation, food, and attractions is increasing.

"Unless people perceive that they are getting good value for money and customer service they will walk away.”

Mr Brown urged businesses not to overlook the importance the Games will have on the local economy and to prepare for visitors and staff taking a keen interest in the Games over the summer.

He said: “We are preparing for journalists to come to Suffolk from all over the world to not only report on the sporting events taking place but also to do lifestyle pieces on their visit to the UK and East Anglia. This is a unique opportunity to showcase the region.”

Tourism in Suffolk is estimated to be worth around £1.7billion to the local economy and the sector employs around 25,000 people in the county.

Visit East Anglia was set up in September 2011 and is a collection of ten businesses, five in Suffolk and five in Norfolk, committed to increasing tourism in the region.

Guests also heard from Lloyd's TSB, official sponsors of London 2012, on how businesses can bring the London 2012 Games ‘to life’ for their staff and customers as consumers are estimated to spend an additional £750million during the Games.

They also urged companies to consider the impact the Games will have on the day-to-day running of their business with an extra 20 million people expected to use the London Underground and staff wanting to take time off for annual leave to watch the events.

Justin Friend, vice-chair of Haverhill Chamber of Commerce which is affiliated to Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “We all know that the Games is coming but it is now less than 100 days away and I do think that businesses have not truly grasped the opportunities available to grow revenues and to make contingency plans.

"This, for many of us, will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity both personally and professionally to be involved in some small way in a historic event and our guest speakers really brought it home that this is something we should be planning for now.”

For more information on Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and future events visit www.haverhillchamber.co.uk

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