TOURIST attractions and businesses in North Devon have experienced a record-breaking summer.
July’s heatwave boosted tourism in the county as temperatures peaked at 30.2C, in what was the warmest, driest and sunniest summer since 2006.
Neil Hocking, partner of Hocking’s Ice Cream, said the family-run business had already exceeded the amount of ice-cream sold this year compared to last.
He said: “It’s nice to be on top. We’re 10 to 15 per cent up on last year and we’ve still got two months of the season to run.
“In the hot spell we had earlier in the summer, we were producing four times the amount we normally would for that time of year.
“The good weathers definitely helped.”
The BIG Sheep in Abbotsham, Bideford, has also enjoyed a successful summer, with record-breaking visitor numbers.
Director Rick Turner said: “We have had a great run over the past few months.
“The beaches saw their busiest summer for the last five years but the attractions also enjoyed a large number of visitors.
“All the school holidays in 2013 have been great weeks and we have seen a seven per cent increase in numbers on last year, a record in the 25 years we have been running The BIG Sheep.”
Mr Turner said he was “delighted” with the season so far and said the family-fun park would be investing in new attractions.
He said: “September bookings in the holiday parks are looking strong, the confidence in the economy is growing, with increasing spend in the service sectors, and if we can continue the sunshine for another few weeks we will have all enjoyed one of the best summer seasons ever.”
The Met Office said there was an above average of 588 hours of sunshine in the UK this summer, making it the seventh sunniest in records dating back to 1929.
Carolyn Custerson, chairman of Visit Devon, said: “It is fantastic that Devon has had such a strong summer season this year.
“The weather has helped enormously, but we must now drive home the message that this is a county to visit across the year.”
Laura Holt, deputy chairman of Visit Devon, added: “It’s a tribute to the strength and quality of the Devon offer, and the fantastic talent of our tourism industry, that we are seeing so much success.”