THE fightback starts here...

After a gruelling 18 months battling Covid, our beleaguered businesses are now welcoming the prospect of a bumper end to the summer season with a host of crowd-pulling events.

Shops, restaurants, bars and hotels in Southend have worked hard to bounce back following the ending of restrictions.

But now new autumn attractions, including fireworks and parades, have been planned that could see the peak summer season extended this year to lift spirits - and profits.

The loved seafront firework displays are making a comeback and they promise to be bigger and better than ever before.

A Mexican-style Day of the Dead parade will also bring colourful street performers to Southend seafront in October for a carnival in Halloween.

The Women’s Tour cycling event will also hit town in October and is likely to attract hundreds of visitors.

While the year might have started with a whimper it is set to go out with a bang and that is good news for businesses.

Paul Thompson from the Southend Seafront Traders’ Association welcomed an extension to the season.

He said: “These events will give a vital boost to Southend’s economy, at a time where everyone is desperate to get back to normal life.

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“I am particularly looking forward to the new Halloween parade, which I believe is a fantastic new event for Southend as a whole.

“With a high street that has failed, it’s great that tourism can still bring visitors into the town.

“These events will enable tourism to provide the needed boost to our local economy longer into the winter.”

Suzanne Gloyne, Southend BID Manager, said the autumn attractions will be a huge boost for traders and believe it will attract the crowds.

She said: “As restrictions have recently lifted, meaning visitors are once again able to visit Southend and enjoy all of our wonderful amenities, tourism season in the town is set to continue long after summer comes to an end.

“People are keenly supporting local businesses whilst our current and upcoming events, including Southend’s Fireworks, will attract lots of visitors.

“This is fantastic news for local businesses; the heightened footfall will give them an invaluable boost.”

Ms Gloyne added that Street Rangers will be working proactively on the ground, keeping the town safe “whilst we will continue to organise fun, uplifting events that’ll position Southend as an ideal tourism destination year-round.”

Denise Rossiter, chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, also said events extending into the autumn is a good idea for Southend - but firms need to have their say.

She said “This is all good news for the town but we mustn’t take things for granted.

“If we do get an extended tourist season, as seems very possible, we need to get the borough council working with and listening to local businesses so that we can build long term success for everyone.”