Polar bears and prosperity: Larking Gowen tourism insights at Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park

Polar bears and prosperity: Larking Gowen tourism insights at Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park

Leading Suffolk tourist attraction, Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park, was the setting for the official launch of Larking Gowen’s 2024 Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Business Survey results.

Guests, representing some of the top tourist destinations in the region, were given a tour of The Lost Lands of the Tundra reserve at the farm, where polar bears Ewa, Flocke and Tala are now in residence.

Venue host, Jimmy Doherty, spoke about how he saw the tourist industry as massively important for the region beyond the £10bn income it generates.

Jimmy chatted to Chris Scargill, Tourism Partner at Larking Gowen, about the changes he has seen over the years in customer behavior and trends, what tourism really means to him, and of course, the red tape tourism businesses are often held back by, and more. You can listen to the full conversation on the podcast Tourism Business Chat here, or by visiting larking-gowen.co.uk/tourism-insights. There you can find more content from the results seminar, including a chat with Jimmy’s Park Director, Stevie Sheppard, and other guests, on another episode.

“Tourism isn’t just another industry. It provides amazing jobs and makes the most of our landscape and wonderful towns and beaches. It provides a fantastic respite for a nation that needs it now more than ever, with everything we’ve been through in recent times. I think the tourism industry should be seen as a national tonic sometimes,” he said.

Speaking in discussion with Chris, Jimmy said the story of the polar bears coming to the farm had seized people’s imaginations and brought them into a closer relationship with the farm.

“It’s really important that you have something new to offer, and these days you need investment just to move your business forward. To make that pay, you’ve really got to tell the story. It’s all in the storytelling, which has got to be authentic and has got to have purpose. To take people on a journey is a skill we have to learn, and it’s part of our world now,” he said.

“We did this, not for the visitors, but because the polar bears we were rescuing needed a home, and animal welfare and conservation is at the core of our business. We’re fortunate that the story of the construction and rescue mission struck a chord with the general public and, as a result, we’ve seen an increase in visitor numbers. It’s important for our staff to see the business developing and staying true to our values whilst doing so,” he said.

Chris Scargill said that although there was more negativity in the sector in comparison to the results of the 2023 survey, there were signs of light on the horizon. You can view the full Tourism Business Survey results brochure here.

Find out more about the survey, and other Tourism based content from Larking Gowen by visiting larking-gowen.co.uk/Tourism-Insights 

Find out more about Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park and their Lost Lands of the Tundra project here.

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