Hertfordshire's visitor economy continues to thrive, with latest figures showing the county hosted a record-breaking 28m visitors in 2017, bringing £2.2bn value into the economy and supporting 40,000 jobs. The county’s destination management service, Visit Herts, has evidenced the strategy behind this success in its Annual Review 2018/2019.
Two key areas of focus include:
- building strategic partnerships with local businesses to create opportunities for collaboration and the development of new products, and
- delivering engaging content to drive up visitor interest and footfall.
Dierdre Wells OBE, Chief Executive of Visit Herts said, "We have seen significant growth in visitor numbers and value in recent years, with the visitor economy becoming the UK’s fastest growing service sector. Currently, Hertfordshire receives 28 million visitors every year, with 2 million overnight stays. The county has experienced 11% growth in visitor numbers with a 5% increase in value since 2015. This is an incredible achievement for Hertfordshire, made possible only by collaborative working between ourselves and our valued partners.
"With a rich and varied tourism landscape, close proximity to London, and a wonderful luxury accommodation offer, there is a real opportunity to continue to grow the Hertfordshire visitor economy. Our long-term vision is to increase the value of the visitor economy by 5% to £2.3bn and we’re excited to continue working with our partners to deliver this.
"We also look forward to working with the Hertfordshire LEP, Hertfordshire County Council and local authority partners to raise the profile of the Hertfordshire visitor economy locally, nationally and internationally, through innovative and engaging marketing activity and working with travel trade. We plan to provide sector-specific business support, promote wider inward investment messages and build on the tourism and hospitality skills partnership in line with the Hertfordshire skills strategy."
Moving forward, Visit Herts will be focussing activity in the areas identified as real opportunities to increase visitor spend. This includes:
- Business tourism, including meetings, incentives, conferences and events aligned with Hertfordshire’s key priority sectors
- Themed opportunities including screen tourism and food and drink
- Overnight visits, leveraging the county’s luxury hotel stock
The latest Cambridge Model Impact Research of the value of Hertfordshire’s visitor economy was published in December 2018. Headline figures below:
- Between 2015 and 2017, there was an 11% increase in trips, 6% increase in value and a 6% increase in jobs.
- 32% of all inbound visits were for holiday, 20% for business tourism, 44% for visiting friends and relatives, and 4% for other purposes including overseas study.
- The food and drink sector provided the significant majority of tourism jobs (9,897) followed by retail (4,961).
- Similarly, food and drink made up the significant majority of direct expenditure (£501m), followed by retail (£465m).
- Day visitors made up the significant majority at 25.9m and brought in £974m value, compared to 1.9m overnight visitors bringing in £484m value.
- Of total visitors, 1.4m were domestic and 492k were from overseas, with the top three markets by visit numbers being the Irish Republic, France and USA.