TOURISM leaders in north Essex are optimistic for a great summer once the lockdown is finally lifted.

The hospitality industry is expected to be one of the last out of lockdown, with businesses not reopening for anything other than takeaways until May.

Billy Peak, director of Clacton Pavilion, predicted a good summer for the resort as people will be cautious about booking holidays abroad.

“The Governments is correct to be cautious about how they release the lockdown,” he said.

“But the most important thing is that we don’t have another lockdown.

“I think we will have a good summer.

“There is reason to have great optimism. Caravan sites are reporting that bookings are up - and people can’t go abroad.

"The are cautious to book holidays abroad and will be looking to holiday in the UK or go on more daytrips.

“Clacton has really relied on daytrippers in recent years.

“We have three miles of fabulous beaches - and it is a great day out.”

Mr Peak added that it had been a hard year for many businesses in the town.

“We are all in the same boat, it doesn’t matter what industry you are in,” he said.

“Everyone is suffering - it’s been very hard, both financially and mentally.

“But we’ve used the time productively to do maintenance and upgrades.

“Most businesses have had to take loans, but they need to be paid back, which will slow investment.

“We will be ready to reopen as soon as we are allowed - and even then I expect we will still have limitations and social distancing for some time.

“We are not going to see normality until 2023.”