Soaring international tourist numbers help put Bristol in running for ‘rising star’ award

November 9, 2018

Bristol has been named as a rising star of the global tourism industry as new figures show international visitors to the city have soared by 60% in seven years.

Readers of National Geographic Traveller voted Bristol as one of three destinations ‘making a name for themselves’ in the magazine’s latest awards. Bristol is competing against Valencia in Spain and Tbilisi in Georgia in the Rising Star category. 

The shortlist for the annual awards – the fourth staged by the magazine – has been made public as new figures show a significant increase in the number of visitors travelling to Bristol last year.

The annual International Passenger Survey, which is produced by the government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows Bristol notched up a 6% growth in international tourism in 2017, attracting an estimated 602,000 overseas visitors and breaking the 600,000-visits benchmark for the first time.

Since 2010, the city has enjoyed a 60% increase in international visitors – making it the seventh most popular destination in Britain for overseas staying visitors and moving it up one place from last year.

Bristol’s tourism economy is estimated to be worth more than £1.3bn and supports almost 29,000 jobs.

The top 10 countries for visitors to Bristol are France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Republic of Ireland, USA, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia.

Destination Bristol head of tourism Kathryn Davis, pictured, said the organisation was thrilled to be shortlisted alongside steep international competition, including Bristol’s twin city Tbilisi.

“As a visitor destination, Bristol is very much on the up,” she said.  “2017 saw record breaking international visits, and we’ve had some great additions to enhance the visitor experience including Aerospace Bristol, Being Brunel, developments at Bristol Old Vic and St George’s plus a host of new food and drink experiences. 

“Our team continue to work hard, partnering closely with VisitBritain, UKInbound, ETOA [European Tourism Association] and now ASTA [American Society of Travel Agents] along with some 500 local businesses of all sizes to ensure that we continue to develop a sustainable visitor economy for the future.”

The National Geographic Traveller Readers’ Awards are considered as the definitive word on the best places, experiences, hotels, operators, travel personalities, podcasts and more. The shortlisted is compiled by judges and voted for by readers to arrive at the final three contenders in each of the 17 categories. Last year’s winner of the rising star category was Belfast.

The winners will be announced on November 26 at a ceremony at London’s May Fair Hotel.

The International Passenger Survey collects information about passengers entering and leaving the UK and has been running continuously since 1961. It is based on up to 800,000 interviews a year, of which more than 250,000 are used to produce estimates of overseas travel and tourism.

The study results are used by government departments, VisitBritain and the national and regional Tourist Boards.

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