Region ‘continues to shine’ with record 1.39m overseas visitors

Visitor numbers to Yorkshire from overseas hit a record 1.39 million last year, nearly four per cent up on 2017, official figures show.

The amount spent in the county on accommodation, entertainment, food and drink was also at a new high, exceeding £600m. The figure was 6.4 per cent higher than in 2017, itself a record.

Yorkshire was the only region in Britain to have seen increases in the key categories of number of visits, length of stay and the amount spent by visitors from abroad.

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At the same time, overnight stays in Yorkshire by people from elsewhere in the region were also said to be above average. However, a small rise in the number of nights spent in the county by domestic visitors was balanced by a similar decrease in the number of trips made to the area. There was no change to the amount spent in the county by domestic visitors.

Leeds will host four days of the 2019 UCI Road Championships. Photo credit: SWPix.com

The figures, from International Passenger Survey data recorded by the Office for National Statistics, come two months after the Business School at Sheffield Hallam University calculated that tourism in Yorkshire was now worth £9bn to the economy each year, an increase of £1bn in a year.

The county has benefited from a favourable exchange rate that has made Britain an attractive destination to visitors from India, China and the USA. Last autumn, it was said that a target of 40m annual inbound visits had been reached two years earlier than expected.

Peter Dodd, commercial director at the tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, said the county “continues to shine globally, attracting visitors from all over the world”.

He added: “Last year’s fantastic weather and action-packed events calendar, combined with the fact that the UK is such a great value destination right now, means we’ve seen some brilliant visitor numbers for 2018.”

Yorkshire’s numbers for the coming season could be boosted by its hosting in September of cycling’s UCI Road World Championships.

The eight-day competition, a sequel to the 2014 Tour de France, will be televised to a global audience of 300 million and will mark the first time since 1982 that the UK has hosted the event.

The region’s summer calendar also includes the World Triathlon series, the Cricket World Cup and the first Yorkshire Sculpture International, a season-long series of events in Leeds and Wakefield which includes the public exhibition of seven large-scale works by Damien Hirst.

Tourism in Yorkshire is estimated to support about 243,000 jobs, or 11 per cent of the workforce. Among the attractions said to have seen the biggest growth last year were the nature reserves of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre, Halifax’s Eureka children’s museum and Barnsley’s Cannon Hall Farm.