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Visit York’s Annual Tourism Survey Results Announced

Results of Visit York’s annual visitor survey have been released today. Eating and drinking remained top as the number one activity (96%) as York continues to benefit from the ‘Britain’s Best Gastro Destination’ award by Trip Advisor last year. Visiting attractions (86%), strolling around and enjoying the ambience (85%) and shopping (72%) are also top activities. The numbers of visitors enjoying a festival whilst in York have steadily increased year on year, with 13% of visitors now stating they took part in a festival or event during their stay.

The ‘York Visitor Survey’ is the biggest independent survey of visitors staying in York. This year long project, conducted throughout 2012, questioned over one thousand visitors on their opinions of York, their motivations for visiting, their place of origin and their likes and dislikes.

The survey demonstrated visitors leave York with a high level of satisfaction; the variety of things to see and do, the atmosphere, the feeling of welcome and general overall customer service in the city, all scored highly. More than three quarters (78%) of visitors said they would be likely to return to York within the next two years and 99% said they would recommend a visit to friends and family. Four out of five visitors had already been to York before.

Average spend per day in 2012 was £34.52 (up from £32.95 in 2011) and slightly down for overnight visits at £79.65 (£80.36 in 2011). The survey showed that overseas visitors spent 21% more per day than visitors from the UK. Average length of stay in York remained the same at 3.3 nights, however, overseas visitors stayed longer; an average of 4.1 nights. Visits by train have increased steadily over the last ten years with 2012 figures showing the best results yet; 27% of visits by train (22% back in 2010).

York continues to attract a mix of age groups and remains popular with the 45-54 age bracket (22% of all visits). However, a younger demographic is now also showing signs of an upward turn, with those aged 16-34 also making up 23% of all visits (up from 17% in 2011). York is most popular with couples (49% of all visits) and 25% of visitors travelled with children.

The biggest percentage of UK visitors come from other parts of Yorkshire (30%), followed by the North West (14%), London and the South East (11%), the North East (8%) and the Midlands (8%). 15% of all visits were from overseas and of these the top ten overseas countries were: the United States (18% of all overseas visits), Australia (13%), Germany and the Netherlands (both at 8%), France (7%), Canada (6%), Spain (4%) and China, Italy and Norway all at 3%.

From January to December 2012, 2.3 million visits were made to the city’s largest eight visitor attractions (compared to 2.5 million in 2011). However, whilst 2012 showed a decrease in visits to attractions, so far in 2013 visits to attractions are up year on year by 16%. Annual average room occupancy grew from 29% in 2011 to 80.1% in 2012 and peaked in September, boosted by the Festival of Food and Drink to 88.5%. Annual average room rates also grew last year to £79.95, 1% higher than in 2011.

Kate McMullen, Head of Visit York said, ‘Overall, last year was a good year. Average room occupancy exceeded 80% for the first time in a number of years and York also continued to have strong appeal overseas. Whilst visits to attractions dipped slightly last summer, this is now back on track with robust figures so far for 2013. It’s good news too that more visitors than ever before are taking part in festivals and events and we’re increasing our appeal to a younger audience. We’re delighted with the results of our annual visitor survey and will use this for our planning for 2014 and beyond.’

The ‘York Visitor Survey 2012/13’ was supported by tourism students from York St John University and staff from York’s visitor attractions.



*The annual visitor survey does not give actual visitor numbers but gives percentage breakdowns. An update on actual visitor numbers and spend will be available from the economic impact study, results available early 2014.

For further information please contact:

Kay Hyde – Head of Communications – Visit York Direct Line: 01904 554451 Mobile: 07506 048852 Email:

Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Visit York Direct Line: 01904 554436 Email:

Notes To The Editor

• Visit York is supported by the City of York Council and over 700 tourism businesses and works in partnership with Visit England.

• Visit York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure and business visitor, and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. Visit York is responsible for leisure and conference marketing, visitor services (running the city’s Visitor Information Centre), training and ensuring a quality visitor experience.

• Visit York is the driving force of the city’s tourism industry. Key facts: 7.1 million visitors, £443 million total visitor spend, 23, 000 jobs