Visit Cornwall hails a ‘monumental’ year

Visitor numbers to Cornwall have risen by 3% year-on-year in 2016, and the county’s tourism bosses expect further growth in 2017.

The news was revealed at the inaugural Cornwall Tourism Summit, organised by Visit Cornwall and attended by more than 200 people from the tourism sector.

Presenting the first public figures since Visit Cornwall became a privately-owned organisation in April 2015, chief executive Malcolm Bell said 2015-16 had been a “monumental” year.

He told delegates he was “proud” of its digital activity, PR and marketing with a much-reduced budget and a smaller team.

“We are going into 2017 in a strong position with some fantastic projects to look forward to,” added Bell.

“I am cautiously optimistic that in the next year Cornwall will start to feel the much-anticipated staycation boom.

“However, we should tread carefully. Economically, we need interest and mortgage rates to stay low and for job security and confidence to rise.

“A relaxation in school holiday rules would also be welcome.”

Speakers at the event included Sally Balcombe, VisitBritain and VisitEngland chief executive, and Bernard Donoghue, chairman of the Tourism Alliance and director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

Balcombe outlined trends in the market, saying there are many reasons why more Brits are taking domestic holidays in 2016.

According to VisitEngland’s Trip Tracker research, the top reason is that Brits “just like taking breaks in the UK”, followed by “these breaks are more convenient”.

The “drop in the exchange rate following Brexit” was in ninth place, well below great British weather, concerns about international terrorism and the expense of foreign breaks.

Donoghue advised delegates to focus on “staff not stuff” to ensure visitors get the best experience on holiday.

He said the Brexit vote had boosted visitor numbers but highlighted concerns over the status and importance of European Union workers in the UK over the coming years.

Lord St Levan, chair of Visit Cornwall, commented: “Feedback from the Cornwall Tourism Summit has been very positive, so much so that we plan to make it an annual event for our members and industry partners.

“By working together, 2017 looks set to be very exciting indeed.”

Pictured at the summit with Donoghue (left), is Gordon Seabright (Visit Cornwall and Eden Project).