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Visits to York attractions and York hotel occupancy reach record high

New figures revealed today show visits to York’s attractions and hotel occupancy levels have reached a record high. York’s tourism agency, Visit York, has released the year end results for visits to attractions as well as hotel occupancy levels for the calendar year January to December 2013. For these 12 months, nine of York’s largest attractions welcomed 2.8 million visitors, which is the highest recorded figure since this survey began in 2005 (when the figure stood at 2.4m).

Making a like for like comparison with the previous year, the new figures demonstrate an 18% year on year increase in the number of visits to attractions when compared with 2012.

Visit York monitors visits to attractions through a poll of nine of the city’s largest venues; the National Railway Museum (NRM), York Minster, JORVIK VIKING CENTRE, York Castle Museum, YorkBoat, York’s CHOCOLATE Story, Clifford’s Tower, the Yorkshire Museum and *York Dungeon. The NRM welcomed the most visitors (a record breaking 900,000 in 2013, 200,000 more than in 2012), with York Minster second (570,000) and JORVIK VIKING CENTRE third (almost 400,000). Tourism chiefs are hailing the results as fantastic news for the city.

Kate McMullen Head of Visit York said, ‘We’re delighted with these results. The creativity of York’s tourism businesses, our joined up approach to marketing and outstanding events and exhibitions have all contributed to this success story. This also shows we are on track to achieve our aim of creating a billion pound tourism sector for York by 2024.’

Mallard 75 at the National Railway Museum, Revealing York Minster, Richard III artefacts at the Yorkshire Museum and the popularity of outdoor attractions, such as YorkBoat and Clifford’s Tower during last year’s summer heat wave, have all led to the city’s best attractions figures in almost decade.

Hotels are also celebrating good news. Average hotel room occupancy for the calendar year 2013 has been calculated at 79.5%, which is 2% higher than the average occupancy rate achieved in 2012.

Occupancy was highest in the summer months (June to September), peaking in September at a record breaking 91% - the highest monthly occupancy level ever recorded in the city and the first time ever that 90% has been exceeded. Footfall at Visit York’s Information Centre at 1 Museum Street for 2013 was 467,496, compared with 451,898 in 2012 (up 3%).

Cllr Sonja Crisp, City of York Council Cabinet Member for Leisure Culture and Tourism said, ‘These are 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. ’

Today Visit England will release its own country-wide figures for visits to attractions across England in 2013; these show an average 5% increase over 2012. However, York’s 18% percent growth is more than three times this national average. Tourism chiefs say the success of the ‘Great Gathering’ at the National Railway Museum has gone a long way to driving this growth, however, the contribution of the other attractions mustn’t be overlooked: in fact 7 out of 9 of York’s big attractions saw double digit growth (that is 10% or more) in 2013 and the average growth across all big attractions except the National Railway Museum was high at 13%.

At 30% growth, the National Railway Museum has shown the largest growth in visitor numbers in 2013 of any of the top 20 free museums in Visit England’s Annual report, outperforming the British Museum and the National Gallery; England’s most visited free museums, in percentage terms.

This means that the National Railway Museum has leaped up the league table of the top twenty most visited free attractions in England, from the 20th most visited attraction in England 2012 to the 13th most visited last year, overtaking the likes of the Ashmolean Museum and Durham Cathedral.


For further information please contact:

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

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

Notes to the editor:

• In 2012 tourism spend in York exceeded half a billion pounds for the very first time – York’s visitor economy was estimated to have a value of £606 million. (The new economic impact figures for York for 2013 are expected to be known in November 2014).

• There were 2.1mn visitors to York in 1987, spending £55 million. Today seven million visitors are spending a record breaking **£606 million annually.

(**The Consumer Prices Index (CPI), the inflation measure used in the Government’s target for inflation, reports that 12 month rate of inflation grew cumulatively by 13.4% between 2008 and 2012. This suggests that of the £163m difference between the £443m value of tourism reported in 2008 and the £606m value reported in 2012, a third is due to inflation and two thirds is due to increased spend per visitor) .

Tourism Facts:

• The top five ranked overseas countries visiting York are the USA, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and France. Although there has been some fluctuation in the order of the countries listed, these five have remained consistently high in the rankings. Canada is the only other country to be in the top five more than once in the last five years but has slipped down the rankings more recently. The United States has consistently been the number one overseas market for York for the last ten years.

• 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 million visitors annually, £606 million total visitor spend, supporting 20,000 jobs

New way of working

Chairman of Visit York, Jane Lady Gibson has recently been appointed Chair of a new initiative to develop a new approach to the way in which York raises its profile, attracts and support business investment, manages the city centre and markets the city nationally and internationally. The proposal is for Visit York with the City of York council, to lead on the creation of a new agency which will 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 will be delivered through this new way of working, with key partners such as York@Large, Science City York and the two Universities. This new agency will enable York to be even more effective at marketing York overseas and attracting business visits, building on success so far.

*York Dungeon was closed for part of 2013 and therefore the like for like year on year comparison has been calculated taking this into account

Please note that not all visitor attractions take part in the Visit England annual attractions survey.

• York Minster visits in 2012 = 477,216. Growth in visits to York Minster from 2012 to 2013 = 20%

• JORVIK Viking Centre visits in 2012 = 387,678. Growth in visits to JORVIK Viking Centre from 2012 to 2013 = 2%