Lancashire saw a jump in the number of tourists visiting the county for the sixth year in a row in 2018, a new report says.
According to the latest STEAM survey, there were in 68.74 million visits to the county in 2018, up 1.7 per cent on 2017.
Those visitors spent £4.41bn, again up 3.8 per cent on the previous year.
The report showed there was also a 1.5 per cent increase in jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector, with employment now totalling 60,782.
Chief executive Rachel McQueen said: “In 2018, we enjoyed an especially hot summer, with visitors choosing Lancashire for short breaks and days out in particular, from Easter right through to the autumn months, increasing the total number of visitor days from 85 million in 2017 to 86 million in 2018.
“We’re delighted to be able to demonstrate that the county is continuing to thrive as a visitor destination, with six years of healthy and sustainable growth to celebrate.
“Lancashire’s food and drink and retail attractions continue to flourish, with both areas exceeding £1bn in direct expenditure by visitors, confirming our belief in Lancashire as the UK’s top gourmet destination.
“Today’s news is testament to the strength of Lancashire’s tourism sector, the professionalism and entrepreneurship of all those who work in our industry.
“It comes just a few weeks before we celebrate their incredible achievements in the Lancashire Tourism Awards 2019. Six years of continuous growth is certainly something to be very proud of and I’ll be saying as much as I welcome them to our tourism ‘Oscars’ in November.”
But she said the county could not sit on its laurels.
She added: “We’re confident that many exciting developments and new investments across the county will continue to drive growth, helping to attract high value visitors from further afield as well as boosting our domestic tourism offer.
“To that end we are now working with TEAM Tourism Consulting to help us produce a new tourism growth strategy for Lancashire, which will help us to explore and maximise the priority opportunities for the sector.”
“TEAM has been commissioned to develop an ambitious strategy focused on targeting interventions towards inclusive growth. The work will gather an evidence base that will feed into the development of the Local Industrial Strategy being led by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. It will also stand us in good stead to maximise any opportunities that come forward through the government’s Tourism Sector Deal.”
TEAM Executive Director, Richard Dickinson said: “With tourism now one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy, TEAM Tourism Consulting is looking forward to working with Marketing Lancashire and its industry partners, to build on the County’s undoubted strengths and create a clear and focused road-map that can maximise the potential of tourism in the years ahead.”
The breakdown of figures showed that Preston had 7m visitors, worth £330.7m. Lancaster had 7.7m visitors worth £478.6m, the Ribble Valley had 4.4m, worth £260.8m, Chorley had 3.6m, worth £188.4m while Blackpool had 18.2m, worth £1.58bn.