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Tourist earnings top £9bn in Devon and Cornwall

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 21, 2012

The South West earned more than £9 billion from tourism last year

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The South West earned more than £9 billion from tourism last year, enough to pay for the entire London Olympics, a new report has found.

The importance of the industry across the Westcountry has been laid bare by the study, which calculates a third of all jobs are dependent on holidaymakers in some areas.

The huge investment has been welcomed but also concerns have been raised as to the fragility of an economy so reliant on weather and the whim of travellers.

Data from Visit Cornwall's in-depth analysis of 2011, Value of Tourism, has now been made available to councillors, though not yet published officially.

It shows that a quarter of all employment in the Duchy now relies on tourism, some 60,921 jobs, thanks to the £1.85 billion spent by tourists. Excluding the value of visits from family, friends and second homes, the value of tourism to Devon last year was £2.15bn, compared to £1.44bn in Dorset and £1.11bn in Somerset.

Robin Barker, director of Services for Tourism and board member of the Tourism Management Institute, said: "These are enormous figures and highlight the essential role this industry has in this part of the world.

"Tourism is not only essential to our economy, but is clearly worth investing in."

Mr Barker added: "The combination of a continued depressed economy, weak euro, extra bank holiday, Royal wedding, jubilee, Olympic and Paralympic games, and of course a wet summer and springtime drought has forced businesses to be 'on their toes' like never before." The total figure in Cornwall was up £240 million on 2010, in part due to the then booming "staycation" market.

The jobs figure compares to 46,000 or 12% in Devon, 29,800 or 12% in Dorset and 23,444 or 9% in Somerset.

In West Cornwall's old local authority area of Penwith, some 8,133 or 31% of all full-time jobs are servicing the holiday industry.

On the Isles of Scilly, the £34 million spent by visitors supports more than 1,000 people, half the population and a massive 92% of all jobs.

The report also shows Cornwall led the way in terms of visitors staying in the county, with more than £1.3bn spent by those staying in the Duchy compared to just under £1.2bn across the border in Devon.

Andrew Wallis, Cornwall Councillor for Porthleven and Helston, where roughly 15% of workers are tourist related, said there is a danger with Cornwall and the South West relying too much on tourism.

He is worried that too many supermarkets, housing schemes and renewable energy plants are being approved, a plan lacking in diversity in employment.

"If there is a massive change, from either domestic and overseas competition, or the poor weather that has inflicted itself on us for the past few years, it would leave a very big hole in the region's economy," he added.

"If the answer is more industry then we need to attract businesses down as we rarely see such applications on the strategic planning committee."

Of the Cornish spend, the vast majority comes from the home market – £1.2 billion – with the still substantial £129 million from overseas.

The much-criticised second homes market generates £4,439,000 and boat owners make a similar contribution of £4,934,000.

Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, said the South West figure was unchanged from 2010 to 2011.

Cornwall, however, enjoyed a large rise from £1.61 billion to the current £1.85 billion.

Mr Bell said the increase of almost 15% was above the UK average, which had been around 5%.

"The figures show not only that Cornwall is the UK's favourite holiday destination but the scale of its importance to the local economy and the jobs and businesses it supports," he added. "This year we will be pleased to hold at the current figure – most people are saying they have done the numbers but not the profits, which is just a fact of life at the moment."

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  • Cweed  |  December 22 2012, 11:37AM

    The problem with these reports is that they are so out of date when they are released. Note that the figures refer to 2011. The comments by Robin Barker refer to events and the economic situation in 2012 where the recession and austerity measures took a stronger hold leaving people with a lot less money to spend on holidays and breaks so 2012 figures are probably well down on these. As in any industry the providers have to react to the current situation and trends look at business in 2013 so figures for 2011 are of little use. Surely with all the technology available tourism groups/leaders can provide more up to date information that would help the industry and planners plan for 2013.

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  • Bleach  |  December 22 2012, 7:35AM

    @bullocks400: You have your own set of figures to back up your assertions, of course?

  • sl4bber  |  December 22 2012, 2:10AM

    The Spanish holiday industry only really got into gear after the Hotels were obliged to give their employees a 12 month contract - which in turn promoted a 12 month season - and bargain off peak holidays.

  • dkkat50  |  December 21 2012, 9:24PM

    Indoor shopping and craft markets -provide work, and holiday makers love em, we have got to drive down money and top earners ,and get back to a Capital eccomony not a Credit system . Tourism is very hard work as any one involved knows only to well and not the best paid job ,but it can be rewarding in other ways and provide a good living.

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  • dkkat50  |  December 21 2012, 9:00PM

    Toruism -Do not knock Tourism -- got all the right letters but not in the right order... anyway just have a look how they run the hotels in the Spanish resorts ,Devon and Cornwall could learn a lot, its not all about hot weather and Sun.The hotel and accomodation is a big part of the Holiday.

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  • dkkat50  |  December 21 2012, 8:47PM

    Do not knock Torurism ,it is an industry that will never let you down in the long term if you give a good service at a price people can afford and are willing to pay. Devon and Cornwall should be the jewel in the crown when it comes to family holidays in the Uk. All resorts in the Uk need a lot more indoor place's for wet weather days,like Theatre, indoor funfare entertainment for the family . indoor places at the Zoo. go Karting,roller skating, Holiday gift shops , family pubs, indoor shooping markets, extend the season by lighting up the town,Entertainment with food and drink, when the sun shines nature takes over and provides the rest free with the Natural beauty of Devon and Cornwall. you must provide good local transport and parking. Do not try to rip people off because they will bite you back and never return.

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  • bullocks400  |  December 21 2012, 6:42PM

    Really? Tourism groups/leaders blowing their own trumpet again and clearly supplying their own figures too. Nothing against tourism as part of the local economy, but lets stop this hype which trys to put it on a pedestal. Not a good thing to rely on one thing, lets encourage more industry and, dare I say it, real work.

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