Jubilee bonanza for North Devon tourism?

Indications are the region enjoyed a bumper crop of visitors while it helped the Queen celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.

THE Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations could have supplied a golden shot in the arm for the North Devon economy, according to local businesses.

Holiday accommodation across the region was packed during the bank holiday weekend as thousands more than expected seized the opportunity for a break.

A survey of tourism businesses by North Devon Plus indicated bookings for the time of year were up by as much as 40 per cent and there was a surge in visitor numbers at all weather attractions.

John Brown, chairman of Ilfracombe and District Tourism Association and owner of Avoncourt Hotel in the town said it had been an incredible weekend.

“Visitor numbers were way up on what we would normally expect on the bank holiday at the end of May,” he said.

“From what I understand, on the Saturday night there was only one bed space in Ilfracombe. We have 10 rooms and we could have let the lot out twice over.

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“All the jubilee events were absolutely brilliant and I know it brought a lot of visitors – we had calls from numerous people who had come down for the day and wanted to stop for a couple of nights.”

The town’s Tourist Information Centre reported 5,000 people through its doors between June 2-6 and all registered accommodation providers registered were full, according to manager Marie Mason.

“It was just like the old Easter weekends used to be, when everywhere was filled,” she said.

In the neighbouring district, Torridge Tourism Association secretary Ruth Benney said it had been busy in the lead up to the Jubilee and throughout the week.

“It was great for local business and accommodation providers,” she said.

“The self catering accommodation was very well booked and there were a lot of people staying at camp sites.”

The Big Sheep at Abbotsham reported the best half term it had experienced since it opened in 1988. Anne Tattersall at the attraction said there had been more than 10,000 visitors:

“We were totally overwhelmed – we thought everybody would be having street parties and doing their own thing, but we hadn’t anticipated the visitors wouldn’t be part of that, so they migrated to the attractions.”

Atlantic Village shopping centre reported ‘a cracking weekend’, deputy manager Paul Naisbeett said it was up 17 per cent on the previous year and footfall over the equivalent time had been up by 29 per cent.

The weather played a big part, with indoor attractions and shopping centres reporting thriving trading on the ‘downpour days’ while the resorts grabbed the visitors during the sunnier spells.

North Devon Plus said it had not been all good news, with dreadful weather towards the end of half term week seeing several people cutting visits short and heading home early.

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