Newly released figures have revealed that over the last year Cheltenham’s number of day visitors grew to 1.9 million – an increase of 7%, whilst the number of nights spent in the town by staying visitors rose to just under 1.1 million – an increase of 6%. Tourism in the borough is now worth over £162 million.
Independent research by The South West Research Company commissioned through Visit Cheltenham showed that the borough’s visitor economy continues to thrive. With a successful appeal to the international market, Cheltenham also saw a 14% increase on the number of nights spent in the town by overseas visitors.
Similar impressive figures during the same period from independent research commercial specialists, Avison Young, state Cheltenham’s vacant retail units stands at only 8%, against a national average of 12%, showing that the town continues to draw in investment.
Tracey Crews, director at Cheltenham Borough Council continued: “It’s great news that more and more people are choosing to visit Cheltenham. The ambition of the council, Marketing Cheltenham and its partners are beginning to pay-off, we’re proud of our vibrant festival offer, the award winning evening economy, parks and green spaces and range of retail offer that presents both national and independent retailers.
‘’The retail sector though has its challenges both nationally and locally, however understanding the unique characteristics of a place and creating an authentic experience for the people who want to visit it are key to good destination management. Local authorities are at the heart of this with place-support, working together will continue to be critical to ensure our tourism economy thrives.”
Since forming in 2017 as a division of Cheltenham Borough Council, Marketing Cheltenham has led the town’s destination marketing strategy under the banner of Visit Cheltenham. Marketing Cheltenham also works in close partnership with Cheltenham BID, helping to deliver some of the town’s major events to encourage visitors into the town centre and create more opportunities for local residents to enjoy.
David Jackson, Marketing Cheltenham manager, said: “These figures buck the national trend and are a testament to the huge appeal of Cheltenham and the significant contribution made by all partners to Cheltenham’s offer to benefit the wider economy. The challenge in the future will be to maintain momentum but I’m confident that by continuing to work with partners and by innovating and adapting to the changing retail market, visitor numbers will flourish.”
Ian George, festivals director at Cheltenham Festivals, added, “It’s really encouraging to see that the number of people visiting Cheltenham is increasing, which certainly chimes with our own figures here at Cheltenham Festivals. In 2019 we welcomed over 235,000 people for our Jazz, Science, Music and Literature Festivals. This year’s Times & Sunday Times Literature Festival was the biggest and most visited in its 70 year history and we saw an increasing proportion of visitors coming to Cheltenham from outside of the region.”
For further information on Christmas events and activities and also further into the New Year see www.visitcheltenham.com or follow @marketingchelt on Twitter.