Culture vultures help boost visitors to Yorkshire’s sculpture city

A RISE in overseas visitors and the lure of world-class sculpture venues have boosted a Yorkshire city’s tourism credentials.

A report commissioned by Wakefield Council has indicated a rise in visitor numbers from 4.4 million trips in 2006 to 7.6 million trips in 2012, while overseas visitors increased by a quarter.

An estimated 13,400 jobs in Wakefield are now tourism related with a value of tourism to the local economy put at £345m.

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The report does not suggest why the visitor numbers have grown but a council spokeswoman said the Hepworth art gallery had received around one million visitors in the three years since it opened in 2011.

The continued success of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the rise of the ‘staycation’ - UK residents holidaying at home - had also helped, she said.

Website Experience Wakefield has 600,000 visitors a year, the council said.

Councillor Les Shaw, cabinet member responsible for culture, said: “We are delighted to see these figures and it is fantastic to recognise the amount of people visiting Wakefield.

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“Tourism provides a great boost to our economy by raising the profile of the area both regionally and nationally as well as creating jobs for residents in the area and we are working continuously to support tourism across the district with various initiatives including the Experience Wakefield tourism website, the Wakefield District Visitor Guide and by delivering major events like Seaside in the City and the Pontefract Liquorice Festival.”

The news comes as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park was named Museum of the Year in a national competition run by Art Fund. It was also recently nominated for two regional tourism awards by Welcome to Yorkshire.