VISITORS to Oxfordshire are boosting the economy by a staggering £2.17 billion, with the amount spent rising each year, new figures have revealed.

An economic impact report for tourism, commissioned by Experience Oxfordshire, has shown a significant increase in visitor spending in 2017.

Spending is up six per cent countywide, taking the total paid out to £2.17 billion, with the largest proportion invested in Oxford - 40 per cent.

In Oxford spending is up five per cent, with visitors splashing out more than £800m.

City council leader Susan Brown said: "I’m encouraged by the overall increase in visitor spend in Oxford in particular, up by approximately five per cent to over £800m."

The study revealed the county welcomed nearly 30 million visitors during 2017, which supported nearly 37,000 jobs.

The boost marks the fourth consecutive year of growth, and with 19 million shoppers visiting the Westgate Centre in the first year after opening in 2017, the total spend is expected to rise again in 2018.

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Last month it emerged that footfall in the city centre was up almost nine per cent since the Westgate opened.

Experience Oxfordshire marketing manager Antonio Ferrara said: "We think the opening of the new Westgate Centre is another reason for people to come to Oxford.

"The city is now a much better shopping destination and the Westgate, which has the new rooftop terrace, is also a great place to eat out."

Hayley Beer-Gamage, chief executive of the tourism organisation, said the increase supported the 'destination strategy' of increasing the length of stay, and attracting more overnight international visitors to Oxfordshire.

She added: "This is the fourth consecutive year of growth in the visitor economy, and Experience Oxfordshire works hard to ensure that we are attracting the right types of visitor to the city and county."

Graham Jones, a spokesman for traders' group ROX - Promoting Oxford Businesses, said: "Any increase is very encouraging but I think visitor spending figures for 2018 will present a truer picture, as they will properly take into account the Westgate effect. I've noticed an increase in Chinese and Japanese visitors."


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The study highlights an increase in domestic and overseas day trips and overnight stays, and increased spend in both day visits and overnight visits.

The average spend per visit for an overseas visitor was an average of £484 per trip, compared to £168 per visit for a domestic trip.

The number of international visitors continued to rise by three per cent, with a total of 702,000 overseas visitors coming to Oxfordshire in 2017, and spending over £339m.

The main reason visitors come to the county is for a holiday (53 per cent), followed by visiting friends and relatives (22 per cent) and business (19 per cent).

The largest proportion of visitor spending was on food and drink (32 per cent), followed by shopping (23 per cent), travel (22 per cent), accommodation (13 per cent) and attractions and entertainment (10 per cent).

The report shows the visitor economy is 'vital' across the whole of Oxfordshire with the largest proportion of visitor spending taking place in Oxford (40 per cent) and the largest number of visits to North Oxfordshire (26 per cent), with Oxford city accounting for 25 per cent of the total visits.

Ms Brown added: "The visitor economy is a significant part of our local economy, with more than 15,000 of our residents dependent on it for their livelihood. I’d like to encourage more employers in the sector to pay the living wage, as this will give them an advantage in the retention and recruitment of staff."

Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, cabinet member for cultural services at the county council, said: "The council has a strong interest in tourism, ranging from encouraging people to get married in beautiful Oxfordshire, through to developing sustainable transport options such as park-and-ride, so people can spend quality time in our historic towns and city.”