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Wet weather attractions cash in as visitor numbers hit by record rainfall

By Herald Express  |  Posted: July 05, 2012

  • EMPTY: The recently raked sands of Torre Abbey remain untouched as the bad weather keeps people off the beaches

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JUNE may have been a wash out but tourism businesses across South Devon are remaining upbeat.

Tourist parks, accommodation providers and attractions experienced reduced visitor numbers and bookings last month as the wet weather held fast but some say they are benefiting from the recent poor weather.

Met Office statistics showed last month was the wettest June on record.

Torbay weather watcher Ernest Freed said the resort experienced the wettest June on record with over 6ins of rain and only three days without any rainfall.

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Despite this the Bay was still the sunniest place in the UK on four occasions.

Claire Jeavons, from Beverley Park Holidays, said: "We have had a great start to the season but the bad weather definitely has had negative effect on bookings this June.

"The reservation lines have been much quieter than they should be.Customers are simply waiting to see what the weather does.

"Putting across how much there is to do at our holiday park, no matter what the weather, is a high priority."

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John Ball, of Higher Well Farm Holiday Park near Stoke Gabriel, said: "It may have put a few people off. A lot of our regular customers have come down as usual. Some can move their weeks around to avoid the rain, but it has been so persistent.

"We have good advance bookings for August and September."

A Paignton Zoo spokesman said: "Visitor numbers are down — it's an inevitable consequence of the poor weather, which is keeping people away from the area as a whole.

"We have our new coati enclosure opening in the summer which we hope will add to people's enjoyment.

"We are receiving a lot of positive feedback from visitors.

"At our sister zoo Living Coasts, Torquay, however, visitor numbers are a little bit up on this time last year."

Teignbridge tourist attractions are staying positive despite numbers being down on this time last year.

Chris Murray, owner of Pennywell Farm near Buckfastleigh, said: "Until the beginning of June, it was fantastic. We were up on visitor numbers compared to the same time in previous years. June brought us back on to a level.

"Now, we are offering more in order to attract people in. We have got wet day activities and we can hold our bird of prey displays in our theatre.

"Also, if it does rain, we are giving visitors a wet day return where they can come back for free within seven days."

Mr Murray is currently the chairman of the management and marketing committee for the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions.

He said: "Attractions are meant to attract, whatever the weather.

"Tourism providers are putting more money into marketing and advertising to make that happen."

South Devon Railway, the seven-mile steam railway linking Buckfastleigh to Totnes, reports similar figures.

General manager Dick Wood said: "Our figures are holding up quite well. Based purely on our own figures are a couple of per cent down to the end of June, compared to the same period last year."

Barry Tolley, founder and manager of the Totnes Rare Breed Farm, said numbers were definitely down on last year because of the bad weather.

He said: "We've never had it so bad. The weather has been awful. On a wet day we might get 10 people if we're lucky."

Simon Read from the Golden Hind in Brixham said numbers were down on last year.

He said: "If it continues to rain like this in the next few weeks when the schools are out then it will get serious."

However, some are cashing in with amusement arcades on Paignton's busy Torbay Road reporting excellent trade.

Paul Cooke, manager of Watersplash Investments which runs all three arcades, indoor crazy golf and a gift shop, said: "We do rain dances here because all our businesses do better when the rain comes down."

Nick Powe, owner of Kents Cavern, said visitor numbers had held up during the disappointing June.

He said: "I think that it shows the value of wet weather attractions."

Cockington Court centre director Marissa Wakefield said: "We are a free day out whatever the weather, so it's been popular with visitors over the last few months."

Dartmouth Academy students saw their Olympic-themed sports day postponed as have youngsters at Canada Hill school in Ogwell.

Mr Freed's Torbay weather stats show there was 152.6mm of rain in June compared to 69.0mm last year. The Bay experienced 139 hours of sunshine compared to 241 hours last year. The average maximum temperature was 18.1c compared to 19.8c last year and the average minimum temperature was 12.0c.

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