Full steam ahead for our tourism sector
Britain's tourism industry has been enjoying a fantastic summer – and nowhere has that been more powerfully illustrated than here in the West Country.
A generally warm, dry and sunny summer and the constraints imposed on many families by the effects of a prolonged period of austerity have combined to make the staycation the popular choice.
New figures published earlier this month suggested that the first half of this year was one of the best times for the tourism industry in a good while. In that period Britain attracted 15.2 million visitors, who spent a record £8.7 billion in the UK economy. This June saw 12.9 million visitors, a 12 per cent year on year increase.
If this trend continues it will see us welcome one overseas visitor every second of every day of every week of every month of the year. That would be great news for the economy of this region and a further sign that tourism is one of the key instruments for delivering growth in the West.
June also saw a record number of visits from what the sector experts describe as "the rest of the world" region, which includes the emerging economies of China, Brazil and India. No wonder Hugh Robertson, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport has been so bullish about the statistics. He puts this year's success down to last year's success, namely the London Olympics.
We would argue there are other factors playing a part in driving growth through the tourism sector but without a doubt the unbridled triumph that was the 2012 Games will have helped enormously, showcasing the best of Britain to the world in 2012.
On Wednesday, the West Country can again trumpet its appeal when the Great Dorset Steam Fair gets under way.
This iconic event, the biggest open-air steam heritage gathering in Europe, will attract tens of thousands of enthusiasts to North Dorset, and that will mean local hospitality businesses should benefit – a wonderful bonus for them as the summer draws to a close.
The Western Daily Press has always maintained that the tourism sector has a big role to play in delivering economic growth, not only here in the West but also in terms of the national economy, and all who play a part in this industry must be encouraged to keep up this momentum and continue to promote Britain – and particularly all the great places west of Stonehenge – as a wonderful option for holidaymakers.