Leeds tourism trade rebounding strongly after £1bn pandemic hit

Leeds’ tourism trade is rebounding strongly after taking a £1bn hit from the pandemic.

By David Spereall, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 17th June 2022, 4:45 am

Visitor numbers over the last month are “comparable” with 2019 levels, figures from the Leeds Hotel and Venues Association have suggested.

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Meanwhile, revenue for hotels and B&Bs is exceeding pre-pandemic levels, a meeting was told this week.

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Meanwhile, revenue for hotels and B&Bs is exceeding pre-pandemic levels, a meeting was told this week. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

It is encouraging news for the sector following the damage done by Covid.

The Leeds economy took £1.9bn from visitor trade in 2019 – a figure that includes tourists spending in shops, restaurants and other places of leisure.

In 2020 however, that number dropped to £900m.

Leeds City Council’s chief officer for culture and economy, Eve Roodhouse, said the current situation was positive.

Asked about the current state of affairs at a scrutiny meeting, she said: “The Leeds Hotel and Venues Association report that occupancy rates are showing relatively strong signs of recovery.

“In the last 28 days, the numbers have been comparable with 2019, which is really positive.

“Perhaps it’s not surprising because we did host a major conference in Leeds in May, which was considered to have been very successful.”

Ms Roodhouse said that the Visit Leeds website was also getting more than twice the number of visitors compared to this time last year, when some Covid restrictions still lingered.

While footfall at Leeds Station during the week is hovering at around two thirds of pre-Covid levels, there are more weekend passengers than before, suggesting the leisure industry is resurgent.

However, pensioners are less likely to be out and about, especially in indoor settings.

Ms Roodhouse added: “We do know from some of our productions and theatres that some of our older audience is a little reluctant to return.

“So there’s more work to be done to support certain demographics to return to tourism, return to the city and for them to feel comfortable with that.”