OXFORD has the potential to be a ‘world class’ attraction – but visitors find their stay is ‘below average,’ city councillors have found.

Tourism generated £873m for the city’s economy last year but there have been concerns regarding overcrowding and Oxford’s capacity to deal with traffic.

Councillors were told by experts that there is ‘complacency in the thought that Oxford is, and will always be, a thriving visitor hub’.

A council review group was asked to find out whether there is a ‘clear vision for tourism’ in the city and how the authority might support that.

It urges the council to ‘remain involved in discussions’ over a potential levy or ‘tourist tax’ that would be paid by people staying overnight. Edinburgh City Council has already said it wants to introduce a similar charge.

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The Oxford councillors said their authority should work with tourism body Experience Oxfordshire and Oxford University to work out a ‘shared vision’ for visitors soon.

The group’s chairman, Andrew Gant, states in a report: “During our work on this review, we heard a couple of people ask: do we really want tourists in Oxford? This report starts with an emphatic answer to that question: yes.

“We believe that we are privileged to live in a beautiful and historic city, and we want to share its treasures with all our friends, neighbours and visitors from across the world, the UK, and, crucially, people who already live here. Our city belongs to everyone.”

The cross-party panel held meetings between February and this month and came up with 21 recommendations.

It said the city council and Oxfordshire County Council should work to ensure Oxford is a ‘Coach Friendly’ city, with short, medium and long term aims for drop-offs.

Authorities should also consider how Oxford’s waterways, such as the River Thames, could be used as a visitor attraction.

‘Creative signage’ between the Westgate Centre, the Covered Market, Cornmarket Street and Oxford Castle should also be put up.

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The group invited a broad range of people involved with tourism in Oxford or in other cities to speak to them.

They included Keith Aspden, the deputy leader of City of York Council, and Kate Mingjie Ji, who works at the Oxford School of Hospitality Management.

Other experts quizzed included Hayley Beer-Gamage, the chief executive of Experience Oxfordshire, and hotelier Jeremy Mogford.

Former Oxfordshire County Council chief executive Joanna Simons, who is now the chairwoman of Experience Oxfordshire’s board, also contributed to the review.

The council’s group was told 6.4m people visited the city in 2017 and spent about £277m on the trips. About 1.2m people spent £406m in staying for 4.7m nights.

The report will be discussed tonight.