Cheshire visitor economy at best levels ever
Figures revealed last month show that Cheshire East’s burgeoning visitor economy continues to grow, with a 6.3% leap in 2016 placing the total value of hospitality and visitor revenue at £895m in the borough.
This success is echoed over in the west of the county too, as tourism figures for Cheshire West and Chester estimate the value of the overall visitor economy at around £1.937 billion.
Across Cheshire and Warrington as a whole, the value of the visitor economy is estimated at £3.376 billion.
A record 16 billion visitors passed through the borough, a rise of 4.9%, with the Tour of Britain international cycle race, along with festivals and many other events and attractions boosting the area’s popularity.
Employment in the borough’s visitor economy has also risen, with a 3.5% increase in full time equivalents to 11,493.
The figures are calculated through Steam, (the Scarborough Tourism Economic Analysis Monitor), an accredited method of calculation used by numerous visitor destinations.
Cllr Brian Clarke, cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure at Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “I welcome this good news, the report has revealed the visitor economy in Cheshire West and Chester grew at a remarkable rate of 10.5% in 2016, probably one of the fastest in England.
“It just goes to show that we are definitely now a place of destination.”
He added: “The council and our partners continue to develop attractions and itineraries that appeal and attract audiences to enjoy all that our area has to offer.”
Major attractions bringing visitors to West Cheshire include Chester Zoo, Cheshire Oaks, the Ice Cream Farm, Chester Races, Chester Cathedral, Anderton Boat Lift, Lion Salt Works and Chester itself.
Katrina Michel, CEO of Marketing Cheshire, added: “This has been a stunning performance in Cheshire West and Chester.
“Chester and its environs is now a significant destination with world class attractions and a hotel and dining scene to match.
“Further afield Bolesworth and Carfest go from strength the strength. I can’t wait to see next year’s figures which will include Storyhouse, the Pokémon event and Chester castle.”
The figures are supported by the latest footfall figures for Chester. Data produced by Springboard show monthly footfall in Chester has risen by 11.7% (compared to last year). This represents a huge increase compared to the average UK decline in footfall of 0.5%.
Reflecting on the news for the east of the county, Cheshire East Council’s deputy leader (at the time) David Brown commented: “This is excellent news for Cheshire East, the council and our outstanding hospitality and tourism industry.
“More people are discovering what the borough has to offer. Some visitors come for the shows – Nantwich, Royal Cheshire, the RHS Flower Show – or concerts such as Rewind and Blue Dot festivals.
“Others are here for our great historic places of interest, our breathtaking countryside, or to explore our canals and rivers. Many choose to stay overnight in our quality hotels and B and Bs.
“Hosting the country’s most successful stage of the Tour of Britain gave an added boost and showcased the borough to the world.
“Then of course there is the business tourism and the large numbers of people who visit the borough purely for business reasons but who often stay for longer than planned or return with their family.”
As part of its visitor economy strategy, Cheshire East Council has a long-standing aspiration to help create a visitor economy worth £1bn by 2020.
Katrina Michel added: “Cheshire East is developing a distinctive visitor economy that is in touch with what today’s visitors want – a great mix of outdoor experiences, unique events and high-quality accommodation.
“Its location between Manchester Airport and HS2 Crewe means that it is set fair for significant growth in the future.”
With continuing investment in the borough’s heritage attractions at Tatton Park, Quarry Bank Mill and Jodrell Bank, this could lead to a further boost in numbers as the projects develop, while Cheshire East Council will stage another Tour of Britain cycle event in 2018.