Leeds welcomed more than 26 million tourists in 2015, a massive increase on previous figures and driven in the main by world-class events.
ConferenceLeeds and VisitLeeds hailed figures in a new STEAM survey, which measures the economic impact of the tourism industry in the UK, which showed the visitor economy sector is growing at an impressive rate with day visitors up by 4.7 per cent and overnight stays increasing by 12.5 per cent.
During the period between 2013 and 2015, the city hosted major world-class events such as the Rugby League World Cup in 2013, the successful Grand Départ for the Tour de France in 2014, the Rugby World Cup 2015, the MOBOs, British Art Show 8 and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
The figures are only set to improve with Leeds expected to jump from the fifth most popular shopping destination in the UK to third following the new Victoria Gate shopping centre opening.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “We know Leeds is a welcoming city, but these figures show the wider appeal to visitors coming for a leisure break or staying here on business.
“We have built up a fantastic reputation for hosting world-class events that people come from far and wide to enjoy. Tourism like this has a significant impact on the Leeds economy, helping to create and sustain jobs for people who live here. We hope to really build on this with the bid for the European Capital of Culture in 2023, to ensure the city remains one of the most sought after visitor destinations in the UK.”
Whilst business tourism continues to grow and contributes £501m to the local economy, attracting around 4 million delegates, leisure tourism visits were estimated to have generated £1.532 billion in 2015, a change of more than 10 per cent when compared to 2013. In all the sector supports 18,000 jobs.
Jennifer Young, Head of ConferenceLeeds, said: “This year’s results are a true testament to the ongoing collaboration that takes place throughout the city. We work hard on creating conferences in order to leave a lasting impression on organisers and delegates; with the overall aim being to convert business tourists into leisure tourists and drive repeat visits to the city. Having already held several large-scale conferences in the city this year, and with several more in the pipeline, we’re excited to see Leeds go from strength to strength.”