Come and visit Snub-bury: Town shuns ‘stupid’ tourism website

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Sudbury businesses have snubbed a high-profile promotional campaign aimed at enticing more tourists to visit Suffolk.

Visit Suffolk’s ‘The Curious County’ campaign was launched earlier this year to encourage people to come to see the county’s top attractions.

The website lists several businesses and activities in locations including Lavenham and Long Melford, divided into categories such as food and drink, art and culture and heritage and history, but no mention is made of Sudbury’s top draws.

Amanda Bond, brand manager for Visit Suffolk, said The Curious County campaign only features the organisations and destinations that sponsor it.

“The opportunity to sponsor The Curious County was communicated widely across the region and open to all, including Sudbury, and I agree it’s a shame that no-one from the town chose to participate on this occasion,” she said.

Miss Bond added that Sudbury does feature in the Walking Festival, a lead sponsor of The Curious County campaign, and the town is promoted as part of other Visit Suffolk activities.

“There will be opportunities for Sudbury businesses to feature in future campaigns,” she said.

Visit Suffolk is funded by a mix of private and public sector money, but The Curious County campaign is exclusively paid for by sponsors.

Mark Bills, executive director of Gainsborough’s House museum, said that he had asked why the house had not got involved with a view to joining the campaign after his appointment at the start of March.

“I was told it was too late for us to join,” he said. “If we were able to do so now, I think we would look into it.

“We want to work with the local tourist agencies and do everything we can to help promote Gainsborough’s House and Sudbury.”

Bryn Hurren, chairman of the board of directors at Sudbury’s Quay Theatre, said: “We certainly haven’t been asked. We tend to do our own marketing and publicity as best we can but we haven’t really got much money.

“It is up to Visit Suffolk to do the asking. It should be building up a picture of Suffolk and all its hidden corners. If we had been asked we would have tried to contribute I am sure.”

Jack Owen, Sudbury mayor, criticised the slogan and said he thought Sudbury’s lack of involvement could be a blessing in disguise for the town’s image.

“I would rather Sudbury not be associated with the ‘Curious’ Suffolk idea,” he said. “It is quite weird and tends to give out the wrong message.

Mr Owen added: “I wish Visit Suffolk had spoken to some more people before coming up with a stupid slogan like this.”

John Sayers, county and town councillor, said Sudbury had a lot to offer with its twice-weekly market, three 15th-century churches and Talbot Trail walk, while Lesley Ford-Platt, chairman of the Sudbury Market Town Partnership, said: “It has never been properly promoted by tourism bodies.

“The only answer may be that we must do this for ourselves.”