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Visit York Publishes Latest Tourism Figures

The future looks bright for tourism in York

York’s tourism agency, Visit York has released the best tourism figures for visits to attractions, since records began. Visit York monitors visits to attractions through a poll of nine of the city’s largest venues; the National Railway Museum, York Minster, Jorvik, York Castle Museum, YorkBoat, York’s CHOCOLATE Story, Clifford’s Tower, the Yorkshire Museum and York Dungeon.

Visits to the largest attractions since the start of 2013 have increased 18% compared to the same period in 2012, from 2,100,901 in 2012 to 2,485,133 in 2013 (January-October). Smaller attractions also fared well this summer, with 2% growth in August, 13% growth in September and 3% in October. Events such as Mallard 75 at the National Railway Museum, the Orb and Undercroft at York Minster, Richard III artefacts at the Yorkshire Museum and the popularity of outdoor attractions, such as YorkBoat, during the summer heat wave, have all led to the city’s best tourism figures in over a decade.

The good news continued into October, with York’s largest attractions demonstrating double digit growth for fourth months in a row. In September alone this year there were 18% more visits to attractions than in September 2012, taking the results for quarter three (July, August and September) to record levels for both the hotels and the large attractions sector.

Hotels are also celebrating good news. In September this year Visit York recorded a massive 90.6% hotel room occupancy, the highest for any month seen in York, since the official tourism survey began in 2007. This was higher than in London (which was 88%) according to the UK Chain Hotels Market Review, something rarely seen before. This is the first time the 90% marker has been exceeded in York and is 4% higher than average room occupancy in September 2012. Average room rates were also 3% higher at £80.80.

The third quarter of the year (July, August and September) also showed the highest ever quarterly hotel room occupancy at 89.6%, 4% higher than 2012 and 3% higher than the previous record, set in 2011. Year to date (January to October), compared with 2012, average hotel room occupancy has grown slightly (up 1%), to 79.4%. Average room rates, however, have also seen growth of 3% to £77.31, compared to £75.35 in the same period during 2012.

Footfall to York’s Visitor Information Centre at 1 Museum Street is also strong, with a 14% increase in the number of visitors through the door in October 2013 compared to October 2012 and a 9% growth year on year, for the three months of July, August and September, a total of 165,649 visitors to the centre during this period.

Kate McMullen, Head of Visit York said, ‘We’re delighted with these fantastic figures. The increase in occupancy levels demonstrates a strong trend for visitors to stay for two or more nights. York is performing very well and attracting visitors from all across the UK and overseas. We are fortunate that businesses continually develop new exhibitions and events to help us in our marketing of the city. York has a fantastic line up of events for Christmas and for next year too, to encourage our visitors to spend more and stay for longer.’

Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism said, ‘These results are excellent and demonstrate how tourism plays a crucial part in the success of our local economy. Creative events such as Illuminating York and Blood + Chocolate give visitors new reasons to come back. We’re now looking forward to building on this success in 2014.’

2014 will be an exciting year for tourism, with the Grand Depart of the Tour de France coming to the city and its 100 day Cultural Festival in the lead up to this. York will benefit from a £1.7 million investment in a brand new exhibition at the Castle Museum, opening next year; ‘1914: When the World Changed Forever’, the Mystery Plays on Wagons will be performed once again and it will be the 30th anniversary of Jorvik Viking Centre’s opening – all in addition to York’s extensive events and festivals programme.

Building on York’s tourism success, a proposal to create a new destination management organisation is currently being discussed, with City of York council and key partners, to bring together the work of Visit York, events and culture as well as city centre management and some inward investment activity. Tourism is a key ingredient in this mix, however, other aspects of marketing the city would also be delivered through this new way of working. Businesses interested in finding out more can email Kate McMullen, at


Visit York Press Contacts:

Kay Hyde – Head of PR and Corporate Communications – Visit York

Direct Line: 01904 554451

Mobile: 07506 048852


Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Visit York

Direct Line: 01904 554436

About Visit York

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

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