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New figures show domestic tourism continues on a high after a record breaking start to the year

The latest results from the Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS) published today by VisitEngland reveal a record breaking performance for domestic tourism in the first quarter of the year.

Key figures include:
• 28.7 million trips recorded in England between January and April this year, an 18% increase YOY, the highest number of trips recorded during the first quarter since the survey began in 2006.
• 18% increase in expenditure, in total to almost £5 billion compared to 2014.
• The number of holidays taken in the first four months of 2015 increased by 7% - the best performance for holidays taken in England for this period since 2012.
• For the month of April the number of domestic overnight trips increased for the fourth consecutive month with a 10% increase to 9 million trips taken and 5% increase in spend to £1.5bn. This is the best April performance since 2012.

These figures are a significant improvement on last year, which dipped due to the severe weather conditions and flooding at the beginning of the year.  VisitEngland’s latest Tourism Business Monitor supports the findings of this month’s GBTS. Nearly half of accommodation providers and 56% of attractions have reported experiencing an increase in visitors for the year to May. Looking ahead, over nine in ten of the businesses surveyed remain confident about the school summer holiday period. This is particularly true amongst accommodation providers who’ve reported high numbers of advanced bookings.  

The early months of the year were characterised by above average weather and a number of high profile anniversaries including the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill and events including the first ever ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ in May, hundreds of family friendly Easter activities across the country in April and a host of music, food and walking festivals, all contributing to high levels of confidence amongst businesses. The industry also celebrated all that’s great about tourism in England with English Tourism Week which took place from 14 – 22 March.  

VisitEngland kick-started the holiday season with a new £4 million Government-funded Holiday’s at home are GREAT campaign featuring Aardman’s well-known BAFTA-winning character Shaun the Sheep going on holiday in destinations across the UK with his farmyard friends. Shaun the Sheep has appeared in a TV advertisement and a poster campaign encouraging consumers to book a holiday through their local travel agent.  The Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign has provided a significant boost to domestic tourism, generating over half a billion (£520.6 million) in incremental spend for the domestic tourism industry and over two million domestic overnight holiday trips since it was launched in 2012.

VisitEngland, James Berresford, Chief Executive Officer said: “These results tell a positive story for the first quarter as we approach the summer holiday season. The tourism industry’s confidence demonstrates the resilience of businesses who bounced-back after the severe weather conditions that impacted destinations at the beginning of last year. We know that England has a fantastic range of standout product and generates high levels of satisfaction for visitors. With  the plethora of sporting, cultural and foodie events taking place across the country this summer we hope this strong performance will continue to boost the industry – and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure we remain globally competitive, a world-class destination that entices domestic and international visitors.  

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “The growing numbers of people making the most of England's world-beating destinations is brilliant news for the industry and our economy as a whole.  We are committed to supporting the tourism industry, helping it to grow and creating jobs throughout the country.  I look forward to working with the industry to implement our new 5 Point Plan to further strengthen tourism across the UK." 

There are a number of high profile sporting events happening across England which tourism businesses can take advantage of during the next few months including Ride London, Cowes Week, Tour of Britain, The Great North Run and the eagerly-awaited Rugby World Cup in September. VisitEngland’s new consumer campaign, #HomeofSport, capitalises on this summer of sport with a search to find the country’s most popular sports destinations.

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