Nearly 12,000 consumers attended VisitBritain’s annual trade show when it opened to the public for the first time earlier this year.
The interest in domestic tourism was established following the debut of the Best of Britain and Ireland event, held in London in March and opened its doors to the public following trade-only days.
The figures were released as part of VisitBritain’s 2008/09 annual review, out today. However, the review revealed the event’s success was not mirrored by overseas inbound tourism, which dropped by 9% year-on-year in the first half of 2009.
An additional 160,000 leisure bookings were made thanks to the pound’s depreciation, which was outweighed by a greater drop in corporate and business travel.
Amid fears that the number of trips to Britain could fall by 5% by the end of the year, VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodrigues reiterated the importance of tourism to the country. “The tourism industry’s ability to deliver rapid employment and economic returns makes it a vital prop in sustaining Britain’s economy in turbulent times.
“As a labour-intensive industry that buys goods and services from other parts of the economy, it can drive economic growth more quickly than other sectors, and should be central to efforts to bring the UK out of recession,” he added.
“The £114 billion visitor economy offers significant returns on investment, with a national reach that is not restricted to one particular area or region of the country. The large number of tourism-related SMEs ensures there are plenty of entry-level jobs that are accessible to all,” Rodrigues said.