They are famous for their love of the outdoors and soaking up the sun on the beach, but its seems Australians are being tempted from across the other side of the globe despite the precarious Yorkshire summer.
Tourists from Down Under may be more used to days of endless sunshine, but they are not being put off by our notoriously changeable British climate.
Instead, they are the nationality most likely to explore the region’s historic cities such as York as well as the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
Figures released today by VisitBritain show that last summer the number of tourists coming to Yorkshire increased by 38 per cent to 168,000 – a record high for visitors to the region during July, August and September.
The increase is higher than the growth in summer holiday visits to London, which saw a rise of 26 per cent when compared with 2012.
This summer Yorkshire hosted the Tour de France’s Grand Départ, and hopes are high visitor numbers will increase even further.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, Gary Verity, said: “Yorkshire’s profile has never been so high, we are riding a wave of worldwide acclaim and we fully expect an influx of international and domestic visitors to flock to Yorkshire this year and for many years to come as the legacy of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France is felt in our great county.
“Yorkshire is very much on the must visit list for many people around the world now and we cannot wait to welcome them.”
Tourism bosses say summer 2013 also saw overseas visitors spending more than ever with £68m spent in July, August and September 2013 – 13 per cent higher than in 2012.
Yorkshire was most visited by Australian tourists, who made 27,000 trips to the region last summer, spending £14m, a new summer record and nearly triple the £5m spent during the same period in 2012.
American tourists were in second place with 26,600 visitors.
VisitBritain’s director of strategy and communications, Patricia Yates, said: “These numbers demonstrate Yorkshire’s growing appeal to international visitors and the economic delivery of inbound tourism.”
Overall, York was the most visited city in Yorkshire and was a priority destination for Australians, Americans and Chinese tourists, coming higher up in their most visited cities than other nationalities.
For Australians, York is the fourth most visited city after London, Edinburgh and Bath, and the sixth most visited city by Americans. For Chinese holidaymakers to Britain, York was the fifth most visited city after London, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester.
The region’s countryside is a prime draw, with many opting to visit the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and parts of the Peak District. Heritage is also a big lure, with a third of tourists including a trip to at least one castle, such as Middleham or Skipton. Visits to villages are also popular.
MP William Hague said that his favourite spot to visit was Richmond Castle, which falls in his North Yorkshire constituency, and said: “It is an imposing castle of great historical importance, dating from the Norman Conquest, is still in fine condition in many parts and it is an excellent starting point for a visit to Richmond, Yorkshire and the beautiful surrounding area.”