‘Hit and miss’ North Devon tourist season

12:42 03 September 2014

Sunbathers cool off in the sea at a packed Woolacombe beach in early August. Pic: Guy Harrop.

Sunbathers cool off in the sea at a packed Woolacombe beach in early August. Pic: Guy Harrop.

Archant

A turbulent year of flooding and ‘the Gove effect’ has seen good trading for some during the holiday season, but others have struggled...

North Devon’s tourist season has been hit and miss as the industry battles to overcome the legacy of winter floods and the ‘Gove effect’.

That is the message from tourism bosses and accommodation owners, still dealing with national press reports that declared the South West ‘closed’ after February’s flooding at Dawlish and in Somerset.

This has been compounded by education secretary Michael Gove’s move to fine parents who take their children out of school during term time.

While some are struggling, others have enjoyed a good season, with Ilfracombe declaring it was ‘bucking the trend’ and North Devon’s campsites and attractions relishing a good summer.

‘Turbulent’

According to Visit Devon, the overall picture has not been good and data it has commissioned shows North Devon and Torridge lost some £3.5million in January and February plus another £2m in bookings at Easter.

Vice chairman Carolyn Custerson told the North Devon Gazette 2014 had been a turbulent year: “We have been seeing growth since 2011 and were hopeful about 2014, but there was significant damage done in February, a key time for forward bookings,” she said.

“There is no doubt the ‘Gove effect’ has resulted in reduced occupancy during term time.”

Holiday cottages owner Jane Cook at Pickwell Barton near Georgeham is part of the North Devon Farm Holidays Group, a co-operative of accommodation providers. She said ‘variable’ was the best way to sum up the season.

“The niche markets are doing well and we have B and B ladies who are doing well. In my larger cottage I am probably having the best year for several years, but some in our group are having an absolutely dire season,” she said.

Great for attractions

Rick Turner at The Big Sheep near Abbotsham said it had been almost perfect weather for attractions: “We were down in June by 17 per cent, but up in July and quite significantly up in August,” he said.

“This last week has been the busiest we have had in 26 years and by about 10 per cent more as well. Our Atlantis Adventure Park has done very well, up by about 23 per cent on the year to date.

“I think most of the attractions have done very well in the last four weeks. The success of the season comes down to one month and as we had a very good August that has made it for us.”

John Fowler Holidays was hit by the February flood effect, but launched a big marketing campaign – including television adverts for the first time in years – and managed to turn the tide.

“By the time we got to mid-February it had hit us quite hard but as the season has gone on it has built up and we went on to have a very strong season. We were booked up throughout the school holidays and had to turn bookings away,” said sales and marketing manager Cathie Whormsley.

Watermouth Valley campsite has had one of its better years and taken advantage of decent camping weather.

“We have 135 pitches and throughout the summer they have been pretty much full and we have been turning people away during the school holidays,” said Chris Wassall at the site.

“Other site owners I have spoken to have said they have had a good season.”

Upwardly mobile Ilfracombe...

Ilfracombe is full of good reports – Sharon Furmston at The Collingdale Guest House said the town had been ‘absolutely buzzing this year’.

“We have just had our best July and August since we opened in 2003 and having spoken to various other businesses throughout the town they have also said they have had an excellent summer.”

Rod Chatfield of Varley House guest house said bookings were up by about five per cent on last year, and the previous three years had all seen a 10 per cent plus increase.

Lawrence Raybone at Ilfracombe Aquarium said there had been ‘a very large number of visitors from both UK and mainland Europe this summer in Ilfracombe’.

“We are generally very pleased with how things have gone here at the aquarium, with high levels of both new and return visitors and the general positive feedback bodes well for us and for Ilfracombe.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other North Devon Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by North Devon Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique North Devon Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other News Stories

Yesterday, 20:56
Penelope Keith chats to Phyllis Ackland during Combe Martin's Hunting of the Earl of Rone parade.

Actress mingles with the crowd’s to enjoy Whitsun bank holiday spectacle for her new television series.

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
Chancellor George Osborne laid out his plan for the South West at Appledore Shipyard on Friday. Picture: Jasmine Little

George Osborne made the pledge during a speech at Appledore Shipyard this morning (Friday)

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
The submerged car in Appledore. Picture: Andy Willterton.

Coastguard and a local tractor driver attempted to rescue the vehicle yesterday (Thursday) which is still stuck in the sand.

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
Caravans moved onto Barnstaple's Rock Park earlier  this evening (Wednesday).

Enforcement officers called off as encampment vacates Rock Park.

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
Unveiling the Conservative six point plan for the South West.

The Chancellor is paying a visit to Appledore Shipyard this morning (Friday) to announce, among other things, improvements to A361 Link Road.

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
The Hobby Horse

From agriculture shows and food fairs to railway shows and picnics - there is loads to do in North Devon this bank holiday weekend.

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
Russell Cheesman, who was found dead in Bideford on Sunday, October 26.

Russell Cheesman, 32, was found dead near Bideford skate park having taken a number of drugs and drinking alcohol.

Read more
Thursday, May 21, 2015
New North Devon Council deputy leader Pat Barker and leader Des Brailey.

Annual meeting sees the formation of a new Conservative led administration

Read more
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The inquest was held at Bideford Town Hall this morning (Thursday).

Julian Renouf, 37, died in April last year during a ‘tragic accident’ after fishing vessel overturned, trapping him underneath.

Read more
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Westward Ho! Picture: Stephen Ring

Double header for Westward Ho! with a coveted Blue Flag plus Seaside Award, but others receive a share of the spoils too...

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 11°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition today E-edition



North Devon's trusted business finder