Newly published research measuring the volume and value of tourism to Durham has revealed that the county’s ambitious tourism targets have been exceeded three years ahead of schedule.
Commissioned by Visit County Durham, the STEAM economic impact model – which assesses data from attractions, accommodation, events, transport and visitor expenditure – shows that tourism’s contribution is now worth £867 million to the county’s economy.
The record growth reflects a 15% increase from the £752 million benchmark set in 2014, exceeding the 2020 projected target of £863 million as stated in the Durham Tourism Management Plan 2016 – 2020.
The annual study shows that Durham welcomed 19.71 million tourism visits in 2017, a 2.4% increase over 2016, with these visitors spending £867million during their stay – a year-on-year increase of 5% in spend across the county.
In addition, the number of jobs supported by the visitor economy also increased with the sector supporting 11,682 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, an increase of 5% from 2016.
Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Simon Henig said: “We are delighted to see that the data revealed by the STEAM report shows a year-on-year growth in terms of the economic impact of tourism in the county, and that our vision for the development of Durham as a visitor destination is coming to fruition.
“This data clearly demonstrates the importance of tourism and the wider visitor economy in helping to deliver local jobs and support local businesses,” he added.
Further analysis shows that 18.2 million day trips were made to Durham representing 92% of all visitors, and an increase in visitors staying overnight across the county, with trips growing by 7% to 1.5 million overnight visitors.
“These excellent results are encouraging for a number of reasons,” said Ivor Stolliday, Chair of Visit County Durham.
“The county has so much to offer in terms of attractions, accommodation and experience. The successful results are a reflection of the collective and collaborative way that the sector works locally to raise the profile of the county as a visitor destination and we are delighted to see that partnership led marketing campaigns are attracting a greater number of visitors, resulting in this impressive year-on-year growth.”
“Visitor spend is increasing at a faster rate to visitor growth indicating people are spending more on things to see and do and in our shops, cafes and restaurants during their stay; Visit County Durham will continue to work closely alongside tourism businesses and other organisations to improve the quality and attractiveness of our fabulous county as a visitor destination.”