These findings are contained in the latest independent research for 2018 commissioned by the Visitor Economy Team at Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Headline city region-wide figures show:
- The region welcomed over 64.2m visitors to the region – a 2.7% increase. This comprised of 59m day visitors (up 2.8%) and 5.3m staying visitors, up 2.6% on the previous year.
- Those staying in paid accommodation rose by 3.6% to 2.6m – the economic impact from this alone rising by 8.9% to £0.95bn.
- Consequently, the region has enjoyed increased employment in the sector – over 53,500 jobs, an increase of 3.5%.
For Liverpool alone:
- A 1.9% increase in visitor numbers – up to 35.4m.
- A 2.2% increase in the number of staying visitors (2.6m) – including a 2.1% increase in serviced accommodation days.
- The wider benefit of this growth is the 3.2% rise in jobs – to almost 35,000 in Liverpool.
- The economic impact in Liverpool is now £3.02bn – a rise of 5.6% in the last year.
Over the last 5 years, there has been a 28% growth in the economic value of the visitor economy to the Liverpool City Region, rising from £3.83bn to £4.93bn – this is equivalent to an average growth of around 5% per year. Over the same period there has been an increase in the number of day and staying visitors, rising annually from 58.72m in 2014 to 67.38m by 2018.
Placed in wider context, VisitBritain’s annual summary, showed a decrease of 3.4% in inbound tourism visits in 2018, with the number of inbound visitors to the city region reducing by 7% during the same period, and possibly as a result of the uncertainty over Brexit and overseas travel for EU residents. However, the average length of time the inbound visitors stayed in the city region increased by 5% compared with the previous year – somewhat offsetting the reduction in the number of trips made.
The overall growth experienced by the city region reflects the importance of the domestic market in terms of those travelling to the area for short breaks and day visits. Major events such as the Terracotta Warriors and the wider city region events programme including Tall Ships Regatta and Giants Spectacular, both staged in Wirral and Liverpool, have made a significant impact in attracting these audiences over a sustained period of time.
Added to this is the increase in supply of hotel stock across Liverpool over the last 5 years and that average occupancy levels across 2018 were more that 3% higher than 2017, as was the average day rate for a hotel room – have also had a big impact on growth.
Peter Sandman, Head of Visitor Economy for the LEP, said: “Whilst the performance of the City Region’s visitor economy continues on an upward trajectory, there are underlying concerns that may well hamper growth over the next few years. In 2018 Liverpool slipped from 5th to 6th place in terms of popularity with overseas visitors. Similarly, the reliance on domestic markets to sustain this level of performance while the implications on border controls as the UK leaves the EU for key inbound markets may also effect performance.