Hertfordshire’s visitor economy has increased by 6% and topped £2.2 billion for the first time ever, after welcoming a record 28 million visitors in 2017, driving jobs and growth across the county.

Independent research commissioned by Visit Herts has revealed an impressive picture of tourism across the county, with 27,785,000 visitors making day trips and overnight stays in Hertfordshire. Tourism supports over 40,000 jobs for both residents, and those living nearby to the county, with the industry now accounting for 8% of Hertfordshire’s total employment.

Deputy Chief Executive of Visit Herts, David Curtis-Brignell said: “Tourism is the UK’s fastest growing service sector and these figures demonstrate the contribution which our vital industry makes to the economy of Hertfordshire. Since Visit Herts launched just over three years ago, we’ve run three successful Herts Big Weekend campaigns, created a new tourism website, won additional Government support from the Discover England Fund and have welcomed more and more partners across the public and private sector.

“We are delighted that the collective efforts of tourism businesses across the county during the past three years have paid dividends and this partnership will be critical in ensuring that this growth continues during a challenging year ahead.”

Using the industry-respected Cambridge Economic Impact Model, this new research measured the volume and value of tourism in the county in 2017, and the impact of visits and visitor expenditure on the local economy.

This is the second time that the volume, value and employment of all ten Hertfordshire districts have been included in the countywide research, and these latest results show a healthy picture across the county when measured against 2015’s baseline figures.

East Herts had the highest number of trips (4.3 million) and the highest value of tourism (£275 million) in the county. Watford saw the highest increase in day visitor numbers in the county, rising by 18% to 1.8 million. £167 million was spent in the local area as result of tourism, an increase of 8% on 2015. Other district highlights includes an 7% increase in the value of day trips in Three Rivers, a 5% increase in the number of overnight stays in St Albans, and a 13% lift in the number of day trips for Dacorum. Meanwhile, Hertsmere saw a 7% rise in tourism employment throughout the district.

Cllr David Williams, Hertfordshire County Council’s leader, said: “The thriving visitor economy in Hertfordshire is a very positive story and underscores the importance of the County Council’s partnership with Visit Herts. The quality of what Hertfordshire offers visitors is not only an asset to the local economy but also contributes hugely to what makes the County such a great place to live and work.”

Tim Burton, senior manager, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “These figures demonstrate that Hertfordshire is a destination in its own right and a great place to live, work, visit and do business. The visitor economy is a vital part of that mix and central to attracting inward investment. Thanks to our programme of targeted investments and partnership working with our major businesses, visitor attractions and the hospitality sector, we are strengthening that offer year on year.”

For more information about Hertfordshire, please visit www.visitherts.co.uk.