Wednesday, July 17, 2013
North Devon’s tourism industry sizzles as temperatures soar ahead of the school holidays - and the outlook is good for the rest of the month.
"Early indications from food and drink and retail outlets suggest that the sunshine is having a positive effect on takings too, with takings up as much as 12 per cent on the same period last year."
THE recent hot weather has shone a ray of sunshine on North Devon’s tourism industry as visitor numbers soar alongside the temperatures.
Forecasters at the Met Office have promised another sunny weekend with highs of 24 degrees predicted tomorrow (Thurs) and 26 degrees on Friday.
Holidays parks in the area have reported an influx of bookings over the last week.
John Fowler Holidays in Ilfracombe said bookings had doubled with the good weather and it had to take extra staff on to man the bookings lines.
"It is just the boost that we all need to cheer us up, bring the country out of its negativity and lethargy and come and visit the UK’s most beautiful region."
Steve Willis, of Croyde Bay Holiday Resort, said the call volumes had been up around 10 per cent on last year and Farm and Cottage Holidays reported a 20 per cent increase in bookings and a 68 per cent increase of web visits from overseas.
Kevin Darvill, director of sales and marketing at Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park said the sunny weather had definitely helped with last minute bookings.
He said: “Over the past two weeks we have seen a ten-fold increase in bookings for last minute stays - also remembering that in the previous two years it was still raining - with camping seeing big increases too.”
“What seems to be happening is potential holidaymakers are keeping an eye on the 10 day forecasts online and seem inclined to book once the weather forecast is warm, dry and sunny.”
Laura Holt, from North Devon +, said visitor traffic to northdevon.com, which advertises the region as a holiday destination, had surged during the first two weeks of July.
“Early indications from food and drink and retail outlets suggest that the sunshine is having a positive effect on takings too, with takings up as much as 12 per cent on the same period last year,” she said.
Alistair Poll, owner of Surfing Croyde Bay, said a decent summer is the hope the region needs after a quiet few years.
He said: “It’s been great to see a vibrant mix of locals and holiday makers in the village, as many of the holiday makers come back for the same weeks year after year, and the last two years they have had to suffer rain.
“Last week the profits were up on this time last year and long may it continue.”
Blue Groove café in Croyde said it had taken on extra staff earlier than usual this year to cope with the increase in demand.
Robert Yendell, of Blue Groove, added: “People are happy because of the weather and when they’re happy they spend money.”
For some, the weather has meant thinking outside of the box to adapt their businesses.
Gemma McQuillan, of the North Devon Surf School in Westward Ho!, said the high pressure had brought an influx of people and sunshine – but no waves.
The school had to think quickly to overcome the problem without losing trade and last week bought a whole fleet of 12 stand up paddle boards.
“The surf school has had a lot of people wanting to get into the water so we quickly had to find a way to adapt,” said Gemma.
“It’s been so nice to see so many people about and it’s definitely been a lot busier than this time last year with the amazing weather.”
Now businesses are just hoping the ‘liquid gold’ sunshine will continue, said BIG Sheep director Rick Turner.
“It is just the boost that we all need to cheer us up, bring the country out of its negativity and lethargy and come and visit the UK’s most beautiful region,” he said.
“The BIG Sheep has seen a massive increase of ice cream sales and the outside rides and attractions such as the splash zone which have been installed in the past few years are proving to be a massive hit.
“With the improvement of weather at this key booking time, just before the start of the school summer holiday period, it could not have been timed better for our industry and with the Met Office predicting the weather to continue hot and sunny for the foreseeable future we should all enjoy a really bumper season – bring it on.”
The long-term outlook for the UK’s summer indicates a continuation of the dry and warm weather through to the end of the month.