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Yorkshire soars through the Visit Britain ranks with the growth of Summer tourists

by Emily Horner

Yorkshire has set new records in tourism with 1.4 million visits in 2018, increasing tourist revenue by 6% from 2017. Welcome to Yorkshire and its attractions are hoping for the growth to continue this Summer.

The attractions that have helped the most to reach this new surge of tourists- ordered from top right to the bottom as shown on the map- are The Dalby Forest Visitor Centre, National Railway Museum, York Minster, Leeds Art Gallery, and Millennium Gallery in Sheffield.

Leeds Art Gallery had the highest increase in tourism of 312%. Perhaps this is due to Leeds having the highest number of tourists in 2018 of 970,000.

Gina Alexandria Churchill-Straffon, Audience Development Officer at Leeds Museums and Galleries, suggests that the gallery is so popular as it is: “A free attraction in the heart of the city.

“Leeds Art Gallery is home to one of the best collections of 20th Century British art outside London and includes the work of local artists Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.”


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Despite the National Railway museum having a small increase by comparison of 15%, it has remained the most popular attraction in Yorkshire.

Simon Baylis, PR and Press Manager of York Railway Museum said: “According to our figures, for 2018/2019 we received 782,000 visitors.

“We are very fortunate to have a unique collection of railway items and artefacts, spanning everything from historic engines and carriages which fill the Great Hall, to smaller items such as medals, paper records, and uniforms which help us tell engaging railway and engineering stories.”

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York Minster is close behind the Railway Museum in terms of the number of visitors, reflecting the popularity of York, the second most visited town in Yorkshire behind Leeds, with 831,000 tourists.

With this figure in mind, Sharon Atkinson, Director of Communications of York Minster, portrays how popular the Minster is.

Atkinson said: “Almost 700,000 people visit York Minster each year for many different reasons: to immerse themselves in the history and heritage; to experience the spectacular gothic architecture and medieval stained glass or to attend a concert or event.

“The Minster is also the Mother Church for the Northern Province of the Church of England, a place of worship for more than 1000 years. So many of our visitors come as pilgrims to attend services, to reflect, to pray or perhaps to light a candle to remember a loved one.”

The January blues are now behind us and plans for the Summer are coming into the forefront of tourists’ minds.

Summer was the most popular season for Yorkshire’s tourists, with three in 10 visits in 2018 made from July to September.

A spokesperson from Welcome to Yorkshire said: “With a growing international reputation and the increasing popularity of stay-cations we’re hoping for another great summer for tourism in Yorkshire.

“The county has so much to offer from stunning coastline and countryside to the very coolest cities.

“With vibrant market towns and the prettiest of villages as well as world-class arts, heritage, food and drink all to be found here, it needs to be on everyone’s travel bucket list.”

Visit Britain had provided and last updated these figures in July 2019. It will be intriguing to see how much Yorkshire tourism increases in July 2020.


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