Leeds is fast becoming a tourist destination of choice, outstripping even Liverpool for numbers of tourists, a council report claims.
It adds that the annual amount of money added to the economy by visitors increased by more than £100m in just one year, and is now the third most popular city outside London for visitors.
The findings were published in a council performance report, and were discussed by the authority’s Infrastructure Scrutiny Board later this week.
Based on Visit Britain data for 2017, it stated that Leeds is the third most popular of the eight so-called “core cities”, receiving 24.6 million visitors per year. The total amount spent by tourists in the city that year was more than £1.1 bn.
While still behind the numbers of tourists travelling to Birmingham (28.3m) and Manchester, (33.7m), Leeds still received 9.5 million more visits per year than Liverpool, and almost double the numbers for both Newcastle and Sheffield. Nottingham (14.1m) and Bristol (13.1m) made up the rest.
The report also claims the city saw an increase in 1,414 full-time equivalent jobs associated with the jump in visitor numbers during 2017. It adds that a survey by finance company Deloitte suggests around 200 new hotel beds have been added to the city each year since 2014.
Among the reasons for visiting Leeds was conferencing. the report claimed that Leeds was recently voted the fourth most popular UK conference destination in the British
Meeting and Events Industry Survey 2019.
Leeds Beckett University, has venues including Cloth Hall Court and the Rose Bowl in the city centre.
David Collett, director of campus and residential services at Leeds Beckett, said: “There has been increasing demand for our conferencing facilities for major events including the Teach First annual conference and the National Union of Students’ annual conference.
“Increasingly, there’s a general move away from London and Leeds is ideally placed in terms of location and cost.
“The activity and energy generated by the Northern Powerhouse conversation has also undoubtedly had a positive effect with organisations working within Leeds specialities, such as financial technology and user experience, all choosing to hold flagship conferences at Cloth Hall Court.”
Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake said: “Tourism has a hugely beneficial impact on the Leeds economy, helping to create and sustain thousands of jobs for people who live here.
“We are extremely proud and fortunate to live and work in a leading world-class European city that is among the most sought after visitor destinations in the UK.
“As our growing visitor economy shows, we have a fantastic reputation for being a welcoming city, as well as one that hosts world class cultural and sporting events that attract people to visit from far and wide.”