East Suffolk Tourism Strategy 2017–22

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Landguard Fort © David Gill

There are several tourism strategies available for Suffolk. The one for East Suffolk (2017–22)  notes the importance of heritage for attracting tourists to the area. One of the aims is to develop the cultural and heritage offer of East Suffolk? Museums are seen as separate from heritage.

East Suffolk attracts (2015) 10.2 million day trips, 2.7 million staying nights. The total value of tourism to the region (2015) was £590 million.

Overseas visitors, heritage and the UK economy

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Durham Cathedral © David Gill

HLF has published a report that demonstrates that overseas visitors to heritage attractions in the UK spent £7.4 billion (“UK PLC: New figures reveal overseas visitors to heritage are driving the UK’s tourism economy“, 24 October 2016). UK domestic overnight visitors spent £4.7 billion, and UK day trips were worth £5.3 billion. Heritage tourism is now worth £2.1 billion to the economy of Scotland.

The information is published in Economic impact of UK heritage tourism economy (2016).

An increase in tourism is likely to be one of the impacts of Brexit making heritage an even greater contributor to the UK economy.

Tourism in Contemporary Cities

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Greenwich © David Gill

The International Tourism Studies Association (ITSA) Biennial Conference 2016 is taking place in Greenwich this week. One of the themes is ‘Heritage tourism in cities’, with an emphasis on UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

I will be presenting an analysis of visitor figures for UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece with a special emphasis on the period of austerity. One of my strands will be the city of Athens with the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Athenian Acropolis.

Furness Abbey: Custodian’s Hut

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Furness Abbey, Custodian’s Hut © David Gill

The original custodian’s hut at Furness Abbey was located on the side of the road to the north of the abbey church. The present English Heritage guidebook by Stuart Harrison and Jason Wood (1998 [rev. reprint 2015]) notes: ‘The wooden shed just inside the northern perimeter fence was the custodian’s hut in Victorian times. Though small, it has its own fireplace and chimney.’

Guidebooks to the site were produced from 1845, reflecting the growing interest in the abbey as a tourist attraction. The abbey was cleared of vegetation in the 1880s making it more accessible to the public.

Furness Abbey was placed in State Guardianship in 1923.

The abbey itself was founded at the present site in 1127 by the Savigniac Order. The original location was at Tulketh near Preston that was established in 1123. This order merged with the Cistercians in 1147, and Furness adopted the change shortly afterwards.

 

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Furness Abbey © David Gill

King Raedwald and Sutton Hoo

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Abellio Greater Anglia ‘Raedwald of East Anglia’ © David Gill

Our Heritage Tourism project evokes King Raedwald. In one sense there is the debate over the view that Raedwald could have been buried at Sutton Hoo (see ODNB entry).

But King Raedwald is also in service with Abellio Greater Anglia (as a Class 90) on the Liverpool Street to Norwich line (change at Ipswich for Woodbridge and Melton for Sutton Hoo).

So next time you travel to Suffolk keep an eye out for Raedwald.

Travel Back in Time with King Raedwald

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In March 2016 the Department for Transport announced a £1 million fund to make it easier to travel by rail. Minister Claire Perry MP has spoken about the ‘great ideas’ that had been put forward.

A group of us proposed a project, ‘Travel Back in Time with King Raedwald’. This will involve using proximity prompts to encourage visitors to move from viewing the Sutton Hoo finds in the British Museum, the UK’s top tourist attraction (see here), to the find-spot in Suffolk. The app will provide information about how to get to Liverpool Street, how to buy tickets, where to change (at Ipswich), and where to alight (Woodbridge or Melton). It will then have further details of where to buy food and coffee, and how to walk (or find other transport) from the station.

Minister Claire Perry MP announced the winners yesterday (“Rail tourism winners announced“, 25 May 2016). The competition “offers grants to rail operators for innovative ideas and trials and is aimed particularly at heritage railways and community rail partnerships. It hopes to encourage more tourists and make it easier to explore the UK by rail.”

‘Travel Back in Time with King Raedwald’ was one of the 17 winners and the team members are looking forward to delivering the project over the next year.

Claire Perry MP commented: “We want to show the best of British to our visitors and Heritage and Community Railways are part of that package. I am delighted that this project is one of 17 national winners across Britain. I look forward to seeing the scheme develop, providing another great reason to visit Suffolk.”

Visiting the Saxon Shore

Visiting_the_Saxon_ShoreI will be exploring how heritage can be used to enhance the visitor experience in Suffolk at the Suffolk Inside Out conference at Trinity Park, Ipswich on 11 March 2016. (Further details are available here.) I will be using the cluster of Anglo-Saxon heritage sites that are found in the Ipswich and Woodbridge areas: Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge Waterfront, Rendlesham, the Ipswich Museum (with its Anglo-Saxon collections), and the Suffolk Record Office (with some of the Sutton Hoo records).