We are still open for business, say Norfolk tourism operators

Our coastline may have taken its biggest pounding for 60 years but the message from our seaside towns is: we are still very much open for business.

At the launch of the Great Yarmouth tourism brochure on Tuesday, chairman of the borough tourist authority Michael Jeal highlighted the concern that in the post-flood confusion there was a prevalent feeling that some places – such as Hemsby – were almost off limits to visitors.

Underlining the fact it was most certainly not true, he made an appeal to trippers to continue to come and support the flood recovery by spending their money.

Hemsby became the focus of international attention after the storm surge because of the dramatic pictures of debris from broken homes strewn across the beach.

But James Gray, a member of the village traders’ association, said that despite the heartache for home owners living on The Marrams, there had been no damage to tourism businesses along Beach Road.

Mr Gray said his business, Lost World Adventure Golf, was closed for the season but plenty of others were still open.

“The Lacon Arms is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the usual times for the winter, and MB’s Leisure Bar is open every day,” he said.

“My message is that every business will be reopening for Easter as normal.”

A similar message was delivered by North Norfolk District Council spokesman Peter Battrick, who said that Cromer was “open for visitors and up and running” despite the battering the coastline had taken.

He said the show on Cromer pier would be back running by the matinee performance today and although promenades were closed in places there was plenty of public access.

Businesses in Burnham Deepdale are also keen to report that events and activities on the north Norfolk coast are carrying on and everyone is welcome to come and visit this winter.

A spokesman said: “Yes, there have been some really tough days with very significant damage, and some businesses and homes have been very badly affected. Our thoughts are very much with those for whom the clean-up has only just begun. The best way to support them is to keep visiting and keep enjoying the glorious north Norfolk coast.

“Here in Burnham Deepdale, we’ve already started our Christmas celebrations with the Deepdale Christmas Market last weekend. Deepdale Backpackers and Camping have various offers on throughout the winter period and the shops of Dalegate Market will help you sort your Christmas shopping.”

In Yarmouth, Peter Williamson, owner of the Merrivale Model Village, said: “Our hearts go out to all the people who were badly affected by the storm surge.

“We are extremely grateful and believe we were extremely lucky to escape damage to our attraction on the seafront.”

The model village is now closed for the season, but Mr Williamson confessed that on Thursday afternoon he thought they would lose the entire fruits of their £600,000 investment over 10 seasons and be facing a one-to-two-year rebuild. Instead, he said Yarmouth seafront was ready and waiting for winter visitors – “and on a sunny day like today it looks very inviting”.

Stephen Pullinger - Eastern Daily Press