Yorkshire's literary tourism trail

Everyone knows that books are good for the soul, but now it turns out that they are also providing a boost to Yorkshire's tourism industry.

The Yorkshire Dales

Today is World Book Day and to mark the 20th anniversary of the event, VisitEngland has commissioned its first ever research into literary tourism.

Surveying more than 1,200 people, the results show that 20 per cent of trips with a literary link are to Yorkshire. The county narrowly missed out on the top spot which went to London with 21 per cent thanks to its connections to both Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle.

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The research should perhaps come as no surprise since Yorkshire is awash with literary heritage, from the Haworth home of the Brontë sisters to Whitby Abbey, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Herriot country.

Patricia Yates, director of VisitEngland, said: “Books fire up our imagination, they conjure up people and places and they inspire us to explore locations and landscapes associated with our favourite stories. Our literary heroes have created a wealth of must-see literary attractions across the country, motivating generations of readers to explore different parts of the country.”

With the next 12 months marking a number of literary landmarks, including the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, 80 years since the publication of The Hobbit and 75 years of The Famous Five, the number of trips inspired by books and fictional heroes is predicted to rise.

VisitEngland has now named 2017 the Year of Literary Heroes and its research also revealed that more than half of British holidaymakers would visit a literary attraction while on holiday. One in four said they had visited a location tied to a book in the past 12 months and a similar number said they had prepared for a trip by reading a book linked the area they were planning to visit.

Sir Gary Verity, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Yorkshire’s ever-changing scenery, dramatic landscapes and fascinating characters have all been great sources of literary inspiration, so it’s understandable that so many people want to come and se the stunning landscapes that inspired their favourite books for themselves.”

England is home to more than 50 literary attractions, spanning authors’ homes, dedicated museums and world renowned libraries and film locations and VisitEngland believes television adaptations like Sherlock have helped boost visitor numbers to related sites.