Leeds welcomed 27.29m tourism visits in 2016, a 4.2% increase from 2015. City agencies ConferenceLeeds and VisitLeeds announced the results from the recent STEAM survey which measures the economic impact of the tourism industry in the UK.
The upward trend for visitor numbers for Leeds, which has shown a notable 9.7% increase between 2013 and 2016, comes as the city approaches the landmark of 100 days to go before its European Capital of Culture 2023 bid is submitted.
Overnight stays have also increased by 5.4 %, according to the new data.
The current STEAM report measures data from 2015 to 2016 and during that period the city hosted major world class events such as the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Series in June where the Brownlee Brothers took Gold and Silver in front of their home crowd and Light Night, a two evening arts and light festival in October which attracted record numbers.
Leisure tourism visits were estimated to have generated £1.64bn in 2016, a change of +15.9% compared to 2015. Leeds’ tourism industry now supports 19,000 full time equivalent jobs which is an increase of 3.3% from 2015.
Business tourism also continues to thrive. Leeds climbed to be the fifth most popular conferencing destination in the UK and has recently celebrated success by improving its position in the International Convention and Congress Association (ICCA) rankings by 149 places, and is now in the top 10 cities in the UK.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “We know Leeds is a welcoming city but these figures show the wider appeal to visitors coming for a leisure break or staying here on business. We have built up a fantastic reputation for hosting world class events that people come from far and wide to enjoy. Tourism like this has a significant impact on the Leeds economy, helping to create and sustain jobs for people who live here.
“And on the back of the recent Lonely Planet accolade which names Leeds as one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2017, we hope to build on this with the bid for the European Capital of Culture in 2023, to ensure the city remains one of the most sought after visitor destinations in the UK.”