Visitor economy shining brightly for Durham

Visitor economy shining brightly for Durham

Latest figures show Durham’s visitor economy is looking buoyant with 18.67 million people visiting the county in 2015, up by three percent on the previous year.

Major trends to emerge in the new survey show a vibrant and healthy picture for tourism in the county with visitor numbers on the increase, in addition to expenditure and the number of people employed in tourism.

The survey, which is commissioned by Visit County Durham, shows the economic impact of tourism in Durham using the Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM), an industry-standard measure – based on the most recent figures for 2015. The economic impact figures are calculated using data from accommodation stock, visitor numbers to attractions, event data, day visits and expenditure data taken from regional visitor surveys.

The figures reflect the county’s rich heritage, outdoors and cultural tourism offer, with strong influences on the positive 2015 results including Visit County Durham’s Regional Growth Fund national marketing campaign; The Bowes Museum’s Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal exhibition which received national and international coverage, and the return of Lumiere – the UK’s largest light festival.

Overall expenditure was also up by two percent year on year at £777.5 million. The number of people employed in tourism in Durham in 2015 stood at 10,961 an increase of 1.5 percent.

Michelle Gorman, managing director of Visit County Durham, said: “We are delighted with the latest figures which show the visitor economy is performing extremely well.  With a strong and diverse offering - from dales to vale and city to coast, we are thrilled to see more visitors discovering for themselves the delights of our wonderful county.”  

Cllr Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “The statistics released are testament to our commitment to ensuring Durham is a thriving place to live, work, invest and visit. These excellent figures are demonstrative of just one aspect of our plan to shine a light on the county and quite literally put it on the map, be that for visitors, residents or businesses.

“As a council, we are dedicated to striving towards a more prosperous county and as such we fund organisations like Visit County Durham and Business Durham who do excellent work in their specialist fields to ensure we are known and recognised as being a vibrant destination.”

For more detailed information on the STEAM 2015 report visit:  

Katharine Capocci T: 03000 261223





Notes to editors:


About Visit County Durham


  • Visit County Durham (VCD) is the Destination Management Organisation for County Durham working on behalf of businesses and public agencies. We came into being on 1 April 2006 and are a private, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, with a board of directors.
  • The company’s main funder is Durham County Council. The private sector also contributes financially to our work in return for benefits and activities that meet their needs.
  • Visit County Durham assists the county to fulfil its potential as one of North East England’s lead destinations, attracting visitors to the region from across the UK and from target overseas markets. Its objective is to ensure that the tourism sector performs to its maximum capacity and brings economic benefits to the county in the form of wealth and job creation. Its broad aims are to attract people to the area and to provide visitors with the best possible experience.

Published: 31, October, 2016

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