This year the eyes of the world were on Yorkshire as it hosted the Tour de France and the latest figures show the region has enjoyed a bumper period for tourism.
The number of overseas visitors to the region, between January and September last year, went up by 12 per cent to 1.08 million and they spent a total of £465m. The strongest growth in visits came from Australia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and USA.
In the third quarter of the year there were 472,000 overseas visitors to Yorkshire - a new record for the July to September period and up by 19 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. A total of £230m was spent during this three-month period - a new spending record for the period in Yorkshire and up 1 per cent compared with the same time in 2013.
Yesterday tourism bosses at VisitBritain said the figures were proof that the county’s Tour de France tourism legacy was starting to show.
Millions of spectators lined Yorkshire roads for the Grand Depart with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister David Cameron among the high profile visitors. Villages, towns and cities along the route decorated homes, pubs and gardens with bunting and bicycles painted yellow.
Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain said yesterday: “Inbound tourism is one of Britain’s most successful export industries, generating jobs and growth across Britain.
“Yorkshire plays a valuable role in that success and the legacy of its excellent hosting of the Tour de France is clear to see.”
The county hosted the first two stages of the 2014 tour, while the third ran from Cambridge to London, as the world famous cycling race returned to Britain for the first time since 2007.
Figures released yesterday show the numbers of people coming to the region listing the reason for their visit as a holiday in the first nine months of 2014, saw a significant jump of 32 per cent and the amount spent by tourists whilst holidaying went up a massive 70 per cent.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “We know when visitors from around the world come to Yorkshire to see it for themselves they fall in love with the county, which in turn helps drive up repeat visits.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently said Yorkshire needs to join forces with the rest of the North to attract thousands of visitors who are bypassing the region as they head to London and Scotland. At the end of last year he promised £10m to fund a new tourism strategy that sells the North as a single destination.
Mr Clegg, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, wants to bring together the 29 organisations currently trying to attract visitors to the North West, North East and Yorkshire so they work together rather than compete.
Despite the region’s reputation as a tourism hotspot, Government figures suggest London currently attracts more than four times as many international visitors as the whole of the North while Yorkshire has half the number of tourists compared to Scotland.