FOLLOWING a painful 18 months of pandemic restrictions, Ledbury traders say business is booming as visitors and locals flock back to the town.


With many people missing out on a foreign holiday this year, billions of pounds of spending money is expected to benefit UK businesses.


Town traders also report that local customers are increasingly returning to the high street as confidence grows following the vaccine rollout.


Lindsey Jackson, owner of Ledbury Books and Maps, said this summer was already much more successful than last year. 


“We have got a lot of tourists coming to the shop,” she said. “People tend to read a lot of books when they’re on holiday, and if they run out they want to buy new ones. And, of course, I’m selling a lot of maps too.


“It feels that people are really beginning to discover Herefordshire.” 


Steve Crowe, who owns Past and Present jewellers with his wife Annette, said the increasing confidence of local shoppers had been more important for his business. “For us, we are lucky that people in Ledbury are very good at shopping locally, and many are feeling a bit more confident about coming out recently. 


“For Ledbury as a whole, trade has been very good. Tourists are coming into town, and everything feels quite vibrant.”


Maureen Davis was welcoming visitors to a BookArt exhibition at the Barrett Browning Building as part of Ledbury Poetry Fest. 


We have been very busy, with lots of people calling in,” she said. “It’s nice to know that we are still thriving.”


Over the road at Hay Wines, owner Jane Salt said: “It has been very busy. Lots of visitors are coming into town — people are holidaying here rather than going abroad. 


“Ledbury has lots of independent shops, and that appeals to visitors. 


“We have also had a lot of customers coming in with Lakefest. They definitely come over to have a mooch around the town while they are there.”


The demand for so-called “staycations” this year could bring a huge to domestic tourism across the country, a study has found.


The report ‘UK Staycations 2021: A Year of Opportunities’, was published by Colliers. Spokesman Marc Finney said: “Our research shows that UK citizens spent £54.8 billion in 2019 on overseas leisure travel, and we estimate that if just 40 per cent of that is instead spent in the UK this year it would represent an additional £22 billion for domestic tourism.”