Tourism stays strong despite the weather

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Tourism in north Northumberland is holding up well despite another summer of difficult trading conditions, say local industry leaders.

The wettest summer since records began and the continued economic downturn have taken their toll on the area’s tourist industry, according to the North Northumberland and Alnwick Tourism Associations.

But many traders are reporting that the situation has not been as bad as was feared, with accommodation bookings in particular staying relatively strong.

Jeff Sutheran, chairman of the North Northumberland Tourism Association, which represents 130 local hoteliers and retailers, said: “I would say that trading conditions have been difficult and we’re not complacent.

“The economic situation, the weather – this year we’ve got a lot of things working against us, or rather challenges to overcome.

“But people are still coming to Northumberland.

“People still do have disposable income, and they want to stay somewhere comfortable.

“It is challenging, but if we do well when things are very difficult, I’m encouraged by that.”

Chris Calvert, director of Bamburgh Castle and chairman of the Northumberland Attractions Association, said that visitor numbers had been down at the castle and at other attractions in north Northumberland.

But he called for positivity, with visitors to the castle spending more money than in the past and a ‘phenomenal’ level of favourable feedback.

“It is negative, and there is no getting away from the fact that it’s negative, but highlighting that it’s negative isn’t going to do any good,” he said.

“There is so much positive stuff going on in the county.”

A hoped-for boost from international tourists coming to the area after attending Olympic events had failed to materialise, he added.

Bruce Hewison, who is chairman of the Alnwick Tourism Assocation and the owner of a bed and breakfast in the town, said he was hopeful for the future.

“You just don’t know what’s round the corner, so you have to be optimistic,” he said.

“We will fly the flag for tourism and keep our standards high, and keep our fingers crossed.”