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Economy

Oxfordshire Sees Promising Visitor Economy Recovery in 2022, Yet Challenges Persist

today19/12/2023 35

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Oxfordshire, known for its picturesque landscapes and rich history, is witnessing a steady return of visitors, as reported by Experience Oxfordshire. Despite this positive trend, the region’s visitor economy still faces hurdles in regaining its pre-pandemic strength.

Encouraging Growth Amidst Economic Challenges

The 2022 Economic Impact Report for Tourism in Oxfordshire reveals a significant increase in visitor numbers and related spending compared to 2021. The county welcomed 26.5 million trips, marking a 14% rise, and saw a 38% boost in expenditure, reaching £2.17 billion. However, the high inflation rate of 8% in 2022 somewhat overshadowed these gains.

Hayley Beer-Gamage, CEO of Experience Oxfordshire, reflected on the challenges: “While the visitor economy globally is recovering, businesses face difficult times. The high inflation rate can obscure the operational reality. In 2022, we were still 14% down on trips and 17% less in real terms value compared to 2019. This greatly affects businesses’ capacity to operate and grow.

Shift in Visitor Trends and District Highlights

The report indicates a return to pre-Covid travel patterns. Holidays accounted for 52% of trips to Oxfordshire, with visits to friends and family making up 20%. Business travel also showed a significant resurgence.

Cherwell and Oxford City emerged as top destinations, attracting 26% and 25% of trips respectively. Oxford City led in visitor spending, contributing 40% to the county’s total. The hospitality sector received a boost, with food and drink expenses comprising 32% of visitor spend.

Local Leaders Emphasize Continued Support

Local authorities emphasized the importance of supporting the visitor economy. Councillor Liz Leffman of Oxfordshire County Council highlighted the ongoing need for recovery support, while Councillor Susan Brown of Oxford City Council pointed out Oxford’s recovery and the need for sustainable tourism management. Councillor Barry Wood of Cherwell District Council expressed delight at Cherwell’s appeal to visitors and the commitment to promoting the district.

Experience Oxfordshire’s Role in Recovery

Experience Oxfordshire has been instrumental in supporting the county’s visitor economy through high-profile marketing campaigns and securing media coverage. The organization also monitors consumer and business trends and offers extensive business support.

Headline figures from the 2022 Economic Impact Report can be found here: www.experienceoxfordshire.org/partner/partner-benefits/research-and-insights/

Written by: Hamish Law

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