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Turnaround in tourism as visitor numbers shoot up
Buy this photo » Cotswold Wildlife Park director Reggie Heyworth is pictured with lemurs. Picture: OX61491 Denis Kennedy
TOURISM across Oxfordshire has seen a sharp rise this summer, with the good weather and the Olympics legacy getting the credit.
A total of 195,301 people used the county’s visitor centres in the past four months compared to 174,785 this time last year, an increase of 12 per cent.
The west of the county saw the highest rise, with 27 per cent more people using visitor centres in West Oxfordshire during April and July in 2013.
Richard Langridge, West Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member responsible for tourism, said: “I think it’s two things; clearly our superb attractions here but also the Olympic and Paralympic legacy from last year’s Games.
“The district council does do marketing overseas, especially the US market, and people have definitely been impacted by the Olympic factor.
“They are coming to London then into West Oxfordshire to go to Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford and Blenheim Palace, among others.”
Cotswold Wildlife Park owner Reggie Heyworth said this had been its best summer for ten years.
He said: “The great weather and the fact people are staying in England for holidays has had a great impact for us.”
There were 17,523 visitors between the information centres in Welch Way, Witney, and High Street, Burford, 3,689 more than last year.
Oxford has also seen a boost this summer, thanks to soaring temperatures that reached 30C during July. The visitor centre in Broad Street had 152,389 visitors between April and July, 12 per cent up on the previous year’s 135,395.
Max Mason, owner of The Big Bang restaurant, went as far as importing 23 tonnes of sand to create a beach at the Oxford Castle to attract more punters. He said: “I really do think that last year’s Olympics are really having an effect this summer.
“It has been a really good summer this year for tourists and I think Oxford is managing to sell itself a lot better.”
Banbury Visitor Centre, in Spiceball Park Road, saw the smallest rise. It had 25,943 enquiries for the same period this year, only 400 up from last year.
While South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils do not run any tourist info centres, joint promotional website southern oxfordshire.com had 49,664 page views last month, 140 per cent more than 2012.
The councils’ economic development manager Suzanne Malcolm said publicity has boosted traffic to its websites.
She said: “We have seen a particular strong growth in Visit Midsomer.”
VISITORS ON THE RISE
- West Oxfordshire visitor centres – 17,523 compared to 13,834 during the same time in 2012 – 27 per cent rise
- Oxford visitor centre – 152,389 people compared to 135,395 during the same time in 2012 – 12 per cent rise
- Banbury visitor centre – 25,943 people compared to 25,556 during the same time in 2012 – 1.5 per cent rise
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