Key York attractions getting back on track

Yorkboat enjoyed a great summer. Photograph:
2 Dec 2013 @ 2.56 pm
| Business
Yorkboat enjoyed a great summer. Photograph:
Yorkboat enjoyed a great summer. Photograph:

A new batch of figures from tourism agency Visit York has revealed an up-swing in visits to local attractions, suggesting the best visitor numbers since 2006 across nine of the city’s largest venues.

Since the beginning of the year, key attractions such as the National Railway Museum, York Minster and Jorvik have seen an eight per cent year-on-year increase in attendees compared with the same period in 2012, representing a jump from 2.1 million visitors to 2.48 million.

The pre-recession tourism peak in 2006 saw an estimated 2.7 million people flock to the city’s key tourist attractions over a 12-month period.

The attractions dubbed York’s “big eight” by Visit York until last year have swelled to become a “big nine”, thanks to the inclusion of newcomers York’s Chocolate Story on King’s Square.

Whilst the new attraction will have undoubtedly served to bolster Visit York’s footfall statistics for 2013, the figures still represent encouraging progress.

The rally in visitor numbers will certainly have local attraction bosses heaving a sigh of relief – 2012 saw a five per cent year-on-year decrease from 2011’s figures, due to factors including a rain sodden summer, a royal wedding and the London Olympics.

The city’s biggest tourist attraction, the National Railway Museum – famously endangered by funding cuts this summer – has played a significant role in York’s successful year in tourism, hosting an array of notably well-received events including the Mallard 75 anniversary celebrations.

‘So much going on’

Meanwhile, YorkBoat enjoyed a buoyant summer of trade thanks to months of glorious weather, whilst York Minster performed remarkably well under the guidance of a determined and highly competent marketing team, having launched the excellent Undercroft exhibition in May.

Smaller York tourist attractions such as Barley Hall, York Brewery, the Treasurer’s House and Mansion House have also enjoyed shared successes recently, with average footfall in smaller venues up 12 per cent year-on-year in September and up two per cent year-on-year in October.

Visit York have also surely played their part in York’s growing tourist attraction footfall, having ploughed resources into marketing the city throughout the country, capitalising upon the “staycation” effect which is currently seeing austerity-stricken families from across the UK spurning the expense of holidaying abroad in favour of visiting British destinations.

Appraising the year’s successes, Kay Hyde, Head of Communications at Visit York commented, “We’re putting a lot of it down to the fact we’ve had so much for visitors to do and we’ve had so much going on.

“We’ve been working hard on marketing campaigns […] so we do think that is bearing some fruit. All we can really surmise is it’s a mix of different effects.”