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Tourism growth strong as Winchester businesses claim a stake in the future of the industry

28 November 2011

Winchester City Council and Tourism South East, the regional tourism body, have released the latest figures relating to tourism performance and investment and the picture is reassuringly healthy.

Over the last three years the Winchester District’s performance in various key areas has shown steady growth – and 2010 statistics for some criteria buck the national trend of decline and/or static performance. What’s more, a new ‘Destination Management Partnership’ called ‘Visit Winchester and the Heart of Hampshire’ has attracted more private sector investment in tourism locally than ever before, further securing the industry’s future.

The Economic Impact Survey, conducted annually by Tourism South East, measures the number of day trippers and overnight visitors, what these visitors spend, and the value of tourism within the local economy. Last year’s figures can be compared over a three year period and demonstrate a sustained period of growth with 32,000 more visitors opting to stay in the district overnight in 2010 compared to 2008 – a key aim for the District’s tourism officials.

The three years under review also have seen the ‘staycation’ trend bedding in – a welcome development for some accommodation providers in the District. The strongest improvement in performance has been the hotel sector, with an estimated 25,000 extra overnight stays by visitors from within the UK. However, a large proportion of domestic tourists are also opting to stay with friends and relatives and 4,000 more overseas tourists opted for hotel stays, so some Bed & Breakfast providers have seen a slight fall in business over this three year period.  For some this has been offset by a 20-30% increase in business due to the introduction of online booking on the City Council’s tourism website

This year has been a time of significant change for tourism locally. After consultation with tourism businesses, the City Council founded a new organisation to build on the growth of the last three years. Winchester City Council, Tourism South East, The South Downs National Park and East Hampshire District Council have created a six-way partnership for tourism locally – the sixth partner being the private sector.

Ellen Simpson, Winchester City Council’s Head of Tourism, said:

“The Visit Winchester and the Heart of Hampshire’ cross-agency/authority partnership was launched to businesses in August and was immediately well received by the sector. Through the membership scheme and other activities we have already attracted 41% more private sector investment to plough back into developing the profile of Winchester nationally and internationally. This is in line with Central Government’s focus on localism – the money is being spent on initiatives that will make a measurable, positive impact for businesses such as mobile phone apps, an improved web service and the launch of new campaigns for 2012 with partners such as Hampshire County Council, Test Valley Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council. We’ve seen from the statistics and feedback from our local businesses during the last three years that we are doing the right things, this is a way of building on this success. “

Cllr George Beckett, Leader of Winchester City Council and Portfolio for Economic Prosperity and Tourism, added:

“This creates a positive picture of both our performance in the tourism sector and also the fact that our businesses are engaged and willing to stake a claim in the future of tourism locally. It is no accident that visitor numbers and spend are on the increase – this is directly linked to a leap in business investment in City Council-led PR activities, advertising, networking consortia and most recently Destination Management Partnership membership. Our tourism service is winning awards for the marketing and support services it provides for this destination and we recognise that this is made possible by the way our tourism businesses work with us.”


For press information, contact:

Ellen Simpson Winchester City Council

01962 848219

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