News that the Tour de France will be starting in Leeds next year has been credited with sparking a Yorkshire tourism boom at the start of this year.
Despite freezing temperatures, the county enjoyed a 47 per cent rise in spending between January and February compared with the same period last year, according to the Great Britain Travel Survey.
The figures – partly due to a 6.6 per cent rise in visitor numbers and a 24.2 per cent increase in overnight stays – were the best in the country.
In the same period, trips were up 0.9 per cent nationally, overnight stays 7.3 per cent and spending 9.2 per cent – all significantly below Yorkshire’s numbers.
It follows the historic news in December that Yorkshire’s bid to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France had been successful.
Gary Verity, chief executive of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, which ran the bid, said: “Statistics like these are testament to the hard work and determination of our tourism businesses, coupled with the innovative work we do to market Yorkshire.
“These encouraging figures follow our announcement that we had secured the Tour de France – and the subsequent international media coverage it brought for Yorkshire, thrusting it into the spotlight once more.”
Early estimates predict the Tour could be worth more than £100million to Yorkshire’s economy when the Grand Depart launches on July 5 next year.
Welcome to Yorkshire has teamed up with theme park Lightwater Valley to launch a new summer campaign to promote the county, including a guide to Yorkshire’s best summer attractions.
Mr Verity hopes the campaign will build on the successful start to the year.
“Yorkshire is now recognised as one of the leading tourist destinations in Europe and our summer guide is just one of a number of initiatives we are leading to build on this momentum,” he said.
Janine Ross, head of marketing at Lightwater Valley, said: “By working with Welcome to Yorkshire, it allows us to access even more opportunities and the new summer guides is one example.”
For more see: www.yorkshire.com