The fallout from the recent Lonely Planet guide claiming ‘Britain aint cheap’ continues to rumble on with many parts of the country keen to dispel the notion that the nation’s best loved destinations cannot compare favourably with those in Europe. Latest to take up the challenge is chairman of the Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association, Peter Williamson, who describes the claims made by Lonely Planet author David Else, as ‘headline grabbing’ and ‘ridiculous.’ Keen to grab some of the headlines instead for the East of England, Mr Williamson is adamant that admission prices here are ‘substantially lower than most places in Europe.’
A survey conducted by the Eastern Daily Press, would seem to add some substance to this alternate view. One example cited is Lowestoft attraction Banham Zoo and Africa Alive, the admission price of £14.95 comparing favourably with 23 Euros for the similar-sized Hanover Zoo in Germany. Managers of such attractions are also keen to point out the much higher VAT costs in the UK, at 20’%, compared with 5-7% on the continent and that current discussions with the government on possible tax breaks are aimed at reducing costs further.
The claim by Lonely Planet that restaurants and hotel rooms are more expensive in the UK is also refuted by East of England hoteliers. Linda Dyble, chair of the hotels and guest houses group of the Yarmouth Tourist Authority, explains that since the recession began room prices have actually dropped considerably all over the UK and now people can expect to pay 20% less for their room than four years ago. Spokesman for VisitNorwich, Keith Brown, concurs, citing a poor exchange rate for spending abroad and with restaurant prices in the East of England comparing favourably too, all that was really left uncontested from the travel guide was the inflated price of UK rail travel. Perhaps that is something everyone can agree on.
Image: Norfolk flag flying outside Eland House by Department for Communities and Local Government, on Flickr