According to the county’s 2015 STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) report, 2015 was an exceptional year for tourism in Monmouthshire. The county welcomed 2.19m visitors, a 4.4% increase on the previous year and a 6.7% increase on 2013. The 4.4% increase between 2015 and 2014 is slightly higher than the currently estimated 4.2% increase for South East Wales as a whole.
The 2.19m visitors generated 2.95m visitor days within the county, an increase of 5.2% between 2014 and 2015. Day visitor days increased by 3.8% between 2014 and 2015. The total of 1.7m day visits is the highest number for Monmouthshire since STEAM began monitoring tourism in the county seventeen years ago. Tourism visits to Monmouthshire were estimated to have generated a total of £187m for the local economy through visitor and tourism business expenditure, representing growth of 6.6% between 2014 and 2015. This increase is also slightly higher than the current South East Wales estimate of 6%.
Staying visitors accounted for £133.79m of the total amount generated by tourism in 2015 with an average stay of 2.5 nights. The staying visitor market saw the highest growth levels between 2014 and 2015, driven by improved performance in both the serviced and non-serviced sectors. The 8.7% increase in serviced accommodation continues the strong growth of recent years, with an average increase of 8% since 2012. The number of visitors staying in non-serviced accommodation also grew by 10.2% from 2014-2015. This is a welcome improvement following annual falls in the sector since 2011.
Tourism visits to Monmouthshire last year were estimated to have supported 2,744 full-time equivalent jobs (FTEs). As many as 82% of these FTEs (2,246) were generated directly through visitor expenditure, with the remaining 18% being indirect and induced (498) – supported through the supply chain and further rounds of expenditure within the economy including employee spend. Tourism spend supports the most employment in the accommodation (879 FTEs) and food & drink (675 FTEs) sectors. In addition, a significant number of self-employed people in Monmouthshire earned a living from tourism.
Tourism is a key driver of Monmouthshire’s economy, with each visitor day bringing an average of £63.19 per day to the local economy, ranging from £31.18 per day for day visitors to £158.77 per day for visitors staying in serviced accommodation. Staying visitors generated an average income for Monmouthshire of £270.70 per visitor. Events are an important means of attracting new visitors to a destination and are often the primary or sole reason for a visit. Monmouthshire’s growing high profile events programme undoubtedly contributed to the county’s exceptional tourism performance in 2015.
County Councillor Bob Greenland, cabinet member with responsibility for tourism said: “As we look forward to welcoming more than 150,000 visitors to Monmouthshire’s Eisteddfod this summer, this is no time to rest on our laurels. Tourism is a fiercely competitive marketplace and while major and high profile events attract visitors from far and wide, the visitor experience – from the welcome they receive at the event itself to where they sleep, eat, drink and shop – can have a real impact on whether they visit the area again or recommend it as a destination to friends and family. As social media and user review sites increase in importance for determining destination choice, the quality of welcome and visitor experience become ever more important.”