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COLYTON: Visitors told East Devon open for business despite storm battering

Thursday, 06 March 2014

EAST Devon is well and truly open for business despite its seaside resorts being battered by recent storms that have hit national headlines.
That was the message from members of East Devon District Council at Wednesday’s meeting at Knowle in Sidmouth.
EDDC’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Ian Thomas, spoke passionately about the need to remind potential visitors in the UK and further afield that the area is ready now to welcome visitors and our tourism businesses are looking forward to a busy Easter.
The first major holiday weekend of the year falls later than normal this year, on April 18th, and this will give business and local councils plenty of time to clear up the last vestiges of the mess left behind by the stormy seas and gale force winds.
Councillor Thomas said: “TV pictures of waves battering our coast and railway lines damaged make good press, but people might get the impression that there’s no point coming to East Devon – maybe the journey will be impossible, or just too much effort. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Local businesses from Exmouth in the west to Uplyme in the east, Budleigh, Sidmouth, Seaton and our inland towns, are open and ready to serve.
“Local volunteers and East Devon staff are hard at work repairing damaged seafronts and tidying our fabulous resorts so they are ready to welcome visitors as we move into the spring. Beyond the obvious cleaning and repairs, they have just this week saved the world from the ills of over 11 million cigarettes.
“The clear message is that East Devon is very much open for business, and you can get here by car, bus, train, plane or even tram!
“Seaton's own rapid transit system, the Seaton Tramway, lost half a mile of track in a 'mini Dawlish', but that has not stopped Jenny Nunn and her team. They moved two trams by road and have started a service between Colyford and Colyton. The whole line is expected to be back in service in good time for Easter.
All year-round resort
“But let’s not forget, East Devon is a year-round tourist haven, with plenty to do in all weathers and loads of visitor attractions. We have some crackin’ eateries and award-winning accommodation for all choices and budgets - caravan parks, farm cottages, bed and breakfasts and first-class hotels.
“I’d like to congratulate the Deer Park Hotel near Honiton on their success in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2013/14. They won a silver award in the Venue and Business Tourism Category, just a few months after winning silver in the Devon Tourism Awards. I understand that the hotel has now been invited to enter the Visit England Awards.
“Beyond the private sector there are also fabulous council-owned visitor attractions - our nature reserves, including the iconic Axe Estuary Wetlands, a magnet for wildlife and people who love the great outdoors.
“EDDC’s Countryside Team organises events for all age-groups across the district - heathland Reptile Rambles, Woodland Adventure days, Easter Egg day, or a Dawn Chorus walk for insomniacs. On the rare occasions the weather interferes, there are all-weather indoor facilities at the Axe Estuary Wetlands; bird hides, the information centre and a classroom for discovering what East Devon’s wildlife is up to in the current season”.
Resilient Councillor Thomas was supported by Sheila Kerridge, a Sidmouth councillor who is EDDC’s Tourism Champion.
She added: “It’s easy to understand people in other parts of the UK and abroad seeing pictures of storm damage on their television screens or Twitter feeds and assuming there’s no point coming to Devon at the moment. What they need to know is that we are a resourceful and resilient lot down here and East Devon is already bouncing back from the storms.
“Seaside businesses took a hit during February with a drop in bookings and, in a lot of cases, actual damage to accommodation, which limited their capacity. But the recovery is now mostly complete and businesses are looking ahead with optimism.
“Bookings are already picking up again for Easter and into the summer but there are still vacancies for the next few weeks. We know that people can hold back a bit at times like this, but we need to ensure that everyone is aware we are ready to welcome visitors now – so come on down!”

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