Significant tourism increase in West Oxfordshire
Latest figures show that tourism-related spending in West Oxfordshire rose by 7.2% to £249 million in 2009, despite the UK-wide recession.
The latest annual Economic Impact of Tourism Study by Tourism South East, the official tourist board for the region, shows the largest percentage increase in annual tourism expenditure that West Oxfordshire has seen in 10 years.
The number of visitors to the District also increased by 6.3% to just over 4 million (4,027,000), with a 5% rise in the number of ‘domestic’ visitors from the UK and a 6.5% increase in the number of day visitors. The number of visitors from overseas remained the same however the study shows that overseas expenditure rose by around £1 million, an increase of 5.5% from 2008.
The study also shows that 4,800 people – an increase of 5.5% - were employed in the tourism sector in West Oxfordshire (2,940 full-time equivalent), accounting for 12.4% of the District’s overall workforce.
Tourism plays an important role in West Oxfordshire’s economy and West Oxfordshire District Council supports the sector through investment in tourism services and development. This includes operating Visitor Information Centres in Burford, Witney and Woodstock.
The Council also works to promote the district under the brand of the ‘Oxfordshire Cotswolds’ and runs a website www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org containing information about events and attractions, as well as producing a visitor guide, attractions guide and other specialised publications, and representing the District at both national and international tourism events.
Cllr Richard Langridge, Cabinet Member for Local Economy and Communities, said: “These latest figures for 2009 show phenomenal growth – the largest in a decade - in tourism for West Oxfordshire at a time when the industry was being hit hard by the economic downturn. Domestic visitors have played a key role in this, but there has also been an increase in the amount of time, and therefore money, that people have been spending here. We are very pleased with this as it is in line with our Council’s strategy to encourage people to ‘stay longer and spend more’ and reflects our commitment to supporting and encouraging growth and diversity in the local economy.
“There is no doubt that the tourism sector, along with all local businesses, continues to face tough times but these figures show that West Oxfordshire has coped well in the face of adversity, and local tourism businesses should feel proud of what has been achieved.”
As part of its commitment to tourism, the Council published a three-year Tourism Strategy in 2009 setting out plans to work with key organisations and local tourism businesses to increase the contribution of tourism to the District’s economy. Key to this was encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more.
The study shows that, overall, tourism-related spending in Oxfordshire stood at £1.6 billion in 2009, up from £1.5 billion in 2008.
To find out more about tourism in West Oxfordshire and to view the Tourism Strategy visit www.westoxon.gov.uk/tourism. Alternatively, call 01993 861080.
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