Visitor numbers fall by two-thirds in 2020

Marketing Lancashire has released its review of 2020, revealing that the county suffered an almost £3bn hit during the year as visitor numbers fell by 68.9 per cent and economic impact generated decreased by 63.4 per cent.

The figures we calculated by STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor), which is a model used by many Destinations Management Organisations such as Marketing Lancashire.

It uses locally derived data from a variety of sources such as hotels, attractions, tourist information centres, events and other accommodation to estimate the number of visitors, revenue generated and employment supported by tourism.

The findings show that visitor numbers decreased from 67.7m in 2018 to 21.37m in 2020. This resulted in a decline of economic impact generated from £4.4bn to £1.61bn.

The numbers take into account take into account national lockdowns, enforced periods of closure, varying local restrictions across the county, the introduction of the furlough scheme and reduced operating capacity resulting from the implementation of social distancing measures.

n the six years up to 2018, STEAM figures have shown visitor numbers in Lancashire had increased by 10.2%, rising from 62 million to 68 million and economic impact had increased by 29.7% to £4.41bn from a baseline of £3.40bn.

Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: "Whilst the sector has demonstrated incredible resilience and innovation in response to this crisis, there is no doubt that, alongside other economic factors such as Brexit, Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on local tourism, as it has on the lives of many people and families across Lancashire. 

“We have all been affected by the pandemic, however, the tourism and hospitality sector which exists to welcome visitors, to provide holidays, leisure and cultural experiencesto host social events and celebrations, found themselves facing unprecedented challenges to their lives and livelihoods."

The good news, however, is that the county looks to be on the road to recover.

Over the last year, Lancashire tourism businesses took part in the NatWest North of England Business Barometer, carried out in waves amongst a consistent sample of sector businesses, including accommodation providers and attraction operators.

By early September 2021, 73 per cent of the Lancashire businesses involved were welcoming visitor numbers at or above those of the same period in 2019 (pre-pandemic levels), with 82 per cent experiencing revenue levels at or above that of the same period in 2019.

Seventy per cent of Lancashire businesses taking part also stated that advanced bookings (Oct-Dec 2021) were at or above those across the same period in 2019.

Rachel McQueen added: "That resilience and Lancashire grit has driven the ‘bounce back’ that we have seen this summer and, with a county-wide focus on post-Covid recovery, Marketing Lancashire remains committed to working with national, regional and local colleagues and partners to ensure Lancashire tourism returns to the growth track of pre-Covid years or even better."

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