YORKSHIRE has seen a huge increase in tourists from overseas last year after launching a major international marketing campaign across Europe and the Far East.
The number of foreign tourists coming to the region has risen three times higher than the rest of the country according to new figures which also show people are staying longer and spending more.
Figures for the nine months to September 2011 show that international visits to Yorkshire were up 12 per cent on the previous year, compared with a four per cent national average increase.
Tourism chiefs in Yorkshire welcomed the figures from the International Passenger Survey which revealed a year-on-year increase of nearly 40 per cent in lengths of stay of international visitors in Yorkshire compared to a national figure of five per cent.
International tourist spending in the region was also up by 29 per cent compared with a seven per cent national average.
The region’s tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire says the increase has mainly come from people travelling from France, Germany and the Far East.
It follows a drive to promote Yorkshire to an international audience. Welcome to Yorkshire’s website has been translated into the languages of key markets including Chinese, German, Dutch, Italian, French and Spanish.
The brand has also been promoted through adverts in New York taxi cabs and sponsorship of the Chinese football team Chengu Blades.
Yorkshire Forward’s chief executive Gary Verity said: “Not many people would have thought a decade ago that we would be talking about Yorkshire being one of the world’s number one choices of destination for tourists.
“But that’s something we’ve always believed in, and something that has spurred on our marketing, PR and promotion of our county to a global audience – last month saw us scoop a world travel award for just that.
“Yorkshire’s several thousand dedicated and creative tourism businesses coupled with some of the planet’s most impressive areas of outstanding beauty mean that Yorkshire has more to offer than most – and these latest figures are proof of that.
“Our Welcome to Yorkshire clipper round the world yacht will have been seen by more than 250m people globally while on its current mission to promote our county – and in 2010 our adverts in New York taxi cabs proved hugely successful. We are currently in talks to bring the Tour de France’s ‘grand depart’ to Yorkshire, which would see our county hit the screens of televisions around the world, further showcasing Yorkshire as a must-see destination.”
Tourist bosses and attractions have reported increases in visitor numbers and a rise in the level of international tourism.
Gillian Cruddas, the chief executive of Visit York said: “At the York Visitor Centre we are noticing a slight shift in visitor patterns. Last year we saw in particular an increase in visitors from China and the Far East as well as Australia. Interestingly Bettys café tea tooms and the York designer outlet are high on the list of places our Chinese visitors want to experience. We’re delighted that York is attracting more and more attention across the globe and will continue to work closely with Welcome to Yorkshire to promote the city as a world class destination.”
Harewood House near Leeds has also reported more visits from China and believes it has benefited from exposure in the press through journalists invited by Welcome to Yorkshire.
Chief executive Mike Schafer said that the Olympics created an opportunity to draw in more international visits. He said: “We’re very aware that this year, as an Olympic year, we will probably see a greater influx of international visitors and we’re working hard to ensure that they are well catered for at Harewood with a diverse range of events, activities and exhibitions to retain their interest during the summer and throughout the year. We’ve also noted that the city of Leeds will host the Chinese Olympic team and, as the east bedroom with its remarkable Chinese wallpaper continues to remain a major focus for the Chinese press, we look forward to welcoming visitors from China as well as from elsewhere.”
Andrew McCarthy, the director of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth said that it has seen eight per cent increase in visitors in the past year. He said the international acclaim of the Brontë’s meant Haworth pulled tourists from around the world – especially from the United States and Japan.
Other major tourism sites which saw increases include RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, which has just announced its best year ever, having welcomed more than 290,000 visitors during 2011. Yorkshire Wildlife Park, near Doncaster, has increased visitor numbers by 500 per cent over the last three years, and taken on 60 new staff.