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Growing Tourism Confidence as Hotel Investment Tops £10million

Hotels in Bury St Edmunds have invested nearly £10 million in their properties in the past year confident that the Suffolk cathedral town is set for greater recognition on the UK tourism map.

The historic market town currently hosts 829,000 trips annually bringing £49 million to the local economy.

A former coaching inn, the ivy clad Angel Hotel started an extensive £750,000 refurbishment of its ground floor in January. Opening in April, the new look will draw on the building’s Georgian roots, local history and characters from the past including Charles Dickens, who stayed at the hotel and included a mention in The Pickwick Papers.

The Best Western Priory Hotel has also invested £750,000 in the first phase of its redevelopment programme which is now complete. This includes a new extension housing a bar and lounge as well as the AA rosette Garden Restaurant; the second phase will add a further six bedrooms bringing the total up to 55.

Surya Hotels have invested in the region of £250,000 in their Dragonfly Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, which they acquired two years ago. All 71 bedrooms have been redesigned with stylish décor in shades of rust, copper and burnt orange and the communal areas restyled, while the new conservatory restaurant, Barley + Graze, is offering all day dining from breakfast through to dinner.

Bury St Edmunds first Travelodge, which opened last month, represents an investment of £8 million for third party investors and boasts a drive-through Starbucks bar café just off the A14. Other accommodation providers with plans to upgrade and extend include the All Saints Hotel Spa and Golf Resort on the edge of Bury St Edmunds, which has submitted plans for 70 holiday lodges. The All Saints Hotel site has had a £5 million refurbishment over the past three years.

Sue Warren, Brand and Marketing Manager for Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, the town’s tourism brand, commented: “The investment that we have seen into accommodation provision for visitors in the Bury St Edmunds area is a fantastic vote of confidence for the continuing growth of the visitor economy in the town which brings £49.9million into our local economy and supports over 1,000 jobs.

“Tourism is booming in Bury St Edmunds and with continued marketing and promotion through the Bury St Edmunds and Beyond brand that is only set to grow. We have seen visitors to our website increase dramatically in the past year and a half and I applaud our funding partners for their commitment and foresight in investing in marketing to promote our town as a destination something that had been lacking for many years.”

Since it launched in September 2017, Bury St Edmunds and Beyond has seen a big rise in the number of visitors to the official tourism website from 139,000 a year to 300,000 from increased marketing and promotion.

Kim David, General Manager of The Priory Hotel, said: “Our £750,000 investment in The Priory Hotel is just phase one of a two phase redevelopment and refurbishment and we will be looking to extend again in the near future to create a hotel with 55 rooms, recognising the needs of growing visitor numbers to Bury St Edmunds as a popular destination.”

This week is English Tourism Week (March 30 - April 7) and on Friday (April 5) the town’s MP Jo Churchill will be visiting Bury St Edmunds’ volunteer tour guides and volunteers at the Cathedral Visitor Information Point on Angel Hill who provide a warm welcome to visitors.

Jo Churchill, MP said: “I am always highlighting the broad and exciting tourism offer we have locally. Arts, culture and history are often intertwined and that it certainly the case for Bury St Edmunds and beyond.  The work of local people who are passionate about preserving our history and sharing it with others also adds to the towns very special offer.

“Our fantastic hospitality, hotels, guest houses and eateries are crucial to attracting visitors. We know our area can easily be used as a hub where people can stay to explore the East of England.”

With over a 1,000 years of history, visitors to Bury St Edmunds have lots to discover.  Find out about the town’s role in the Magna Carta, the legend of Saint Edmund, England’s former Patron Saint, and the final resting place of Henry VIII’s sister Mary Tudor, Queen of France. Admire the magnificent St Edmundsbury Cathedral and stand among the ruins of the 11th century Abbey of St Edmund, once one of the most important monasteries in medieval Europe, set in the stunning Abbey Gardens. Explore medieval architecture, Georgian squares, Britain’s last remaining Regency theatre, and discover the town’s literary links to Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Norah Lofts, plus its US connections.   Eat and drink at award-winning restaurants, gastropubs and cafés and shop at independent boutiques, markets and leading high street stores. Bury St Edmunds is also a great base from which to explore Suffolk’s medieval wool towns and Newmarket, the home of British horse racing.

For more information about where to stay and things to see and do in Bury St Edmunds visit www.burystedmundsandbeyond.co.uk.

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