New Lancashire tourism figures for 2021 show sector in post-pandemic recovery

29 September 2022

with 34m more visitor days and nights than in 2020* and more than double the 2020 economic impact

 The county’s annual STEAM report, which evaluates the volume and value of visitors to Lancashire, has been released today by Marketing Lancashire.  The report analyses data from tourism and hospitality businesses gathered for 2021 and shows the county recovering steadily from the impact of the Covid pandemic.

  • Visitor numbers in 2021 rose to 51.51m from 23.8m in 2020
  • Economic impact generated in 2021 increased to £3.51bn from £1.7bn in 2020

Rachel McQueen, Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire commenting, said “Having been through the unprecedented challenges of the Covid pandemic on the tourism and hospitality sector, we are very much encouraged by the findings of the new STEAM report, which shows Lancashire businesses recovering well, no doubt due to their hard work and determination to welcome visitors back.

“Visitor numbers grew to around 75% of pre Covid levels and economic impact was at 80% of the £4.4bn reported in 2018.  Considering Lancashire was amongst the destinations most disrupted by local as well as national lockdowns, this positive news is further testament to the resilience and innovation of our brilliant sector and colleagues. Blackpool in particular saw an increase in day visitor numbers over pre-Covid levels, attracting visitors well into the autumn and winter months.

“As life crept back to some normality we saw increasing visits to friends and family in Lancashire, eager to see each other after long periods apart and, with overseas travel still not without its problems, Lancashire, along with other destinations, benefitted from more day-trips and holidays spent here in the UK.  As an industry we have certainly all worked incredibly hard to encourage visitors back to Lancashire and to achieve this more positive result.

“We know we cannot afford to be complacent as the challenges of rising energy costs and the increased cost of living now pose new threats, but we are committed to continuing to do all we can to help return to the healthy levels of annual growth that we experienced before Covid.”

Up to 2018 Lancashire’s visitor economy had enjoyed six years of consecutive growth. As the pandemic hit in 2020 and with many businesses closed and employees furloughed, a comparable county-wide STEAM report for 2019 was not possible. However, Marketing Lancashire was able to gather the data for 2020, vital to demonstrate the impact of the pandemic on the sector, and has now returned to tracking on an annual basis.

Andrea Challis, interim Chair of Marketing Lancashire, said “Re-opening safely for visitors was certainly both a challenge and a relief. Above all, it was a joy for colleagues and businesses that exist to deliver exceptional service and quality holiday experiences.

“As part of the Marketing Lancashire Board, I saw the team work hard with public and private sector partners to bid for marketing funds, deliver business support activity, and gather data and insight to champion the needs of the sector with national Government colleagues.

“If we can continue to work together, to build on these 2021 figures, we will hopefully see a return to pre-Covid levels before too long.”

County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, and Chair of Lancashire Leaders, said: “This report is hugely reassuring that Lancashire is starting to see the return of more visitors to our county. Lancashire is a beautiful county, with a wealth of culture and a lot to offer.

“These encouraging new figures are a testament to our resilience as a region. Together with our colleagues, partners and a wide range of local and regional organisations, we are working hard to move forward from the financial challenges we have faced in recent years, to build a new future for Lancashire and embrace opportunities that allow us to grow and offer more to our residents, businesses and visitors.”

During 2021 Marketing Lancashire was successful in securing £80,000 from the VisitEngland Destination Management Organisations’ Recovery Marketing Fund, for the #RediscoverLancashire – Escape the everyday campaign. A campaign that encouraged visitors to return to the county for unique bookable experiences, to increase short breaks and boost visitor spend.

Lancashire attractions and destinations also featured in national initiatives focused on England’s Coast, which targeted domestic and international visitors, and England Originals (highlighting historic cities) which targeted the domestic Millennial market.

These campaigns, along with VisitLancashire seasonal activities, helped keep Lancashire ‘front of mind’ for domestic short breaks, as the easing of restrictions, allowed life and holidays to return to some normality.

Marketing Lancashire also led on the development of a Tourism Recovery Strategy, bringing together representatives from the private and public sector in Lancashire, to set a clear county-wide agenda for the next two years, focusing on the synergies between tourism, culture and place.

From mid-July 2020, Lancashire tourism and hospitality businesses also participated in the Nat West North of England Tourism Barometer, giving vital insight into the state of the sector. This culminated in a roundtable event with leaders from across the north, participating businesses and senior economists from NatWest to discuss building back, regaining visitor confidence and how to leverage more government support for the sector.

This intelligence, as well as information from a range of ‘How’s Business’ questionnaires, undertaken by Marketing Lancashire on behalf of Visit England and DCMS, will continue to inform, support and lever opportunities for the county’s tourism and hospitality sector.

The latest STEAM Report 2021 can be found on marketinglancashire.com

*2020 figures revised from original reported levels due to availability of additional visitor data insight

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