Revealed: Tourism's 'monumental contribution' to county's economy
- Credit: Alan Davies
Nearly £140 million was spent in the local economy in Herts each month in 2019 as a direct result of the county's tourism and hospitality industry, a new report has revealed.
Visit Herts’ latest Tourism Economic Impact Study, published this week, shows that before the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the county’s visitor economy had topped £2.4 billion for the first time ever.
Using the industry-respected Cambridge Economic Impact Model, the study measured the volume and value of tourism across the county in 2019, and the impact of visits and visitor expenditure on the Herts economy.
Deirdre Wells OBE, chief executive of Visit Herts, said: “The insights presented as part of this latest research demonstrate the monumental contribution our industry makes to the overall Hertfordshire economy.
"Our visitor economy businesses sit at the very heart of the vibrant destinations throughout our region, attracting skilled workers and businesses looking to relocate, as well as providing key infrastructure to support the operations of businesses across a range of diverse industries."
A total of £139 million was spent on average in the local economy each month in 2019, and the county welcomed a record 29 million visitors. Of this total, 27.1 million were day trips.
St Albans had nearly 2.2 million trips, both day and overnight stays, with a total visitor spend of more than £150 million, while Welwyn Hatfield had 2 million visitors, North Herts 3 million, and Stevenage 1.9 million. Hertsmere had 1.5 million visitors, while East Herts had 4.5 million.
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The independent research commissioned by Hertfordshire’s official destination management organisation also showed an eight per cent increase between 2017 and 2019 in the number of tourism jobs across the county, rising to 43,390, which accounts for seven per cent of total employment in Hertfordshire that year.
The release of Herts' latest economic impact findings not only provides a detailed picture of the significant value and importance the county’s tourism and hospitality sector had on the region’s wider economy in 2019, it also establishes a benchmark from which to measure the impact of COVID-19.
The report is an extremely useful vehicle in aiding the recovery of the industry after lockdown has ended.
Deirdre Wells said: “In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector is having to drastically rethink how to rebuild demand and revenue streams, working together to adapt, develop and survive.
"We are proud to be working closely with our partners at Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and the Herts Growth Hub on a programme of activity that aims to support the recovery of our industry following the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Continued collaboration will be critical in championing the recovery of our sector during a particularly challenging year ahead.”
This latest research shows that the value of Hertfordshire’s tourism and hospitality industry was on a positive trajectory in 2019, and the county performed better overall than the wider East of England region.
Visit Herts’ strong network of existing public and private partnerships, together with successful placemaking development since its launch in 2015, allowed the county’s destination management organisation to respond quickly in the face of the current pandemic, collaborating closely with partners on a programme of activity that aims to aid the county’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Launched in May 2020, Herts LEP and Visit Herts are currently working in partnership to offer small and micro businesses within the tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts, and cultural sectors the chance to unlock between £2,000 and £5,000 in match funding to help overcome the challenges of COVID-19.
The £200,000 Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund is currently being administered by Visit Herts and is delivered through the Crowdfunder Pay it Forward platform.
Nitin Dahad, chair of Herts LEP's enterprise and innovation board, said: “These figures demonstrate the continued growth of the sector prior to the pandemic and just how important the visitor economy is to Hertfordshire’s recovery.
"Thanks to the strength of the Visit Herts partnership, we were quickly able to mobilise funding streams to support those small and micro businesses most in need and provide valuable and trusted support to these key sectors throughout the crisis.
"This collaboration will be vital as we rebuild Hertfordshire’s economy and positively adapt to changing patterns of living and working post-pandemic.”
One of Herts' biggest tourist draws is Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter at Leavesden.
Senior vice president and general manager Geoff Spooner, Visit Herts' co-chair, said: “These figures underline the economic value to Hertfordshire of its world-class tourism offering, with 2019 being a particular stellar year.
"The breadth of Hertfordshire’s tourism offer positions the region to bounce back strongly and quickly from the challenges of 2020 when the opportunity to rebuild the sector arrives.”
The recovery of Hertfordshire’s visitor economy will be further supported by funding recently secured by Visit Herts as part of Visit England’s ‘Escape the Everyday’: Destination Management Organisations’ Marketing Recovery Fund.
Escape the Everyday will provide an opportunity for Visit Herts to deliver local marketing activity, focussing on Herts' fantastic local produce and outdoor experiences, which aligns closely to the UK-wide domestic tourism campaign.
The campaign aims to support the industry to recover by encouraging consumers to explore, discover and treat themselves to a short break when COVID-19 related restrictions allow, and when they are ready to travel.
For more information about Hertfordshire tourism, visit www.visitherts.co.uk.