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Houghton horse trials and bank holiday promise bumper weekend for Norfolk’s tourism businesses

PUBLISHED: 15:09 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:19 25 May 2018

A dressage competitor at the Houghton International Horse Trials, which will bring thousands of visitors to Norfolk this weekend. Picture: Ian Burt.

A dressage competitor at the Houghton International Horse Trials, which will bring thousands of visitors to Norfolk this weekend. Picture: Ian Burt.

Archant 2018

Tourism and hospitality businesses in Norfolk are braced for an influx of visitors and a bumper weekend.

The Houghton International Horse Trials continue until Sunday, and are expected to draw a crowd of thousands, while the extended bank holiday break will prove another crunch period for the county’s key tourism sector.

With temperatures expected to be around 25C over the weekend, the stage could be set for tourism businesses to continue making up the ground that was lost to poor weather earlier in the year.

Others have had bookings confirmed for up to a year by visitors to some of Norfolk’s most celebrated annual sporting fixtures.

Lettings agency Barefoot Retreats is among the tourism firms which has seen a link between demand for its properties and nearby sporting events.

It is the title sponsor of the Burnham Market International Horse Trials, and has 95% booking rate for the weekend of the trials at both Burnham Market and Houghton, with bookings split evenly between new and returning customers.

Other sporting events have provided similar boosts, with 80% of Barefoot Retreats’ properties re-booked year-on-year for Tennis Week at Hunstanton in August.

Other accommodation providers have seen similar surges in bookings around the events, including the Hoste Arm in Burnham Market, which takes reservations more than a year in advance.

The Kings Head in Bircham, which works with the organisers of Houghton International, is fully booked for accommodation and dining by visitors brought to the area by the event.

Chris Otty, business development manager for Cottages.com, described the Houghton Horse Trials as “fantastic for the region, attracting visitors from far and wide”.

“As a sponsor of the event, cottages.com has benefited enormously through increasing our presence within the local area, and we have seen a significant rise in properties being recruited across Norfolk, particularly in areas close to the venue,” he added.

Research conducted by Deloitte shows attendances at professional sporting events in the UK totalled nearly 75 million people in 2017.

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