Visit Britain marks English Tourism Week

Visit England’s Tourism Week takes place from 17-26 March 2023 and is an annual celebration of English tourism, highlighting the important contribution this sector makes to the UK economy.

An extremely popular tourist destination, Herefordshire is renowned as one of the most beautiful counties in the UK – a hidden gem nestled on the Welsh borders – and thousands of visitors flock here throughout the year. With five market towns – Ross-on-Wye, Ledbury, Bromyard, Kington and Leominster – there is plenty on offer for tourists and visitors who are either passing through en route to other UK destinations or who choose to stay and explore everything that this wonderful county has to offer. As well as the vast beautiful open spaces and countryside where you can enjoy outdoor activities, Herefordshire hosts many events and festivals throughout the year – including walking, music, food, drink (particularly cider), poetry and country shows – attracting diverse audiences with varying interests.

Ross-on-Wye – photo credit: Will Henderson

Making up 80% of the UK’s visitor economy, pre-pandemic English tourism in 2019 generated over £100 billion a year and supported 2.6 million jobs, particularly for school leavers and young people. Visit Britain’s latest tourism report published in September 2022 highlights England’s visitor attraction trends and reveals interesting data around visitor behaviours since 2021. Attractions in England reported a 30% increase in total visits from 2020 to 2021, as they began to recover from the impact of the pandemic – however this still remains at less than half of the admissions volume seen in 2019.

Specifically, visitors to the West Midlands, which covers tourism into Herefordshire, saw a 30% increase in 2021 which proved to be about average compared with the rest of the UK, with London and the South East suffering the most with just 12% and 17% increases respectively.

In 2021, the most popular free attractions – or ‘open’ venues – were places of worship, which saw an increase in visitors of 59%, heritage centres (up 53%) and historic houses & castles (up 35%). The most popular paid-for visitor attractions were steam or heritage railways (up 120%), historic properties (up 65%), museum & art galleries (up 54%), farms (up 49%) and historic houses & castles which saw a visitor increase of 47%.

Goodrich Castle, Ross-on-Wye

Tourism marketing expenditure increased in 2021, with 43% of attractions reporting an increase in their budgets compared with 2020. Overall, the top two digital communication channels are organisations’ Websites and Facebook, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. Social media maintains its popularity as an inexpensive marketing tool for many tourist attractions and Facebook continues to dominate in this area with 89% of attractions utilising this marketing method. Twitter, although still used by 61% of attractions, has seen a 6% decline since 2019. Use of Instagram/Pinterest and ‘other’ social media however, continues to rise – 31% used ‘other’ social media (an 11% increase on 2019), while 62% used Instagram or Pinterest, a 5% rise compared with 2019.

This year’s official patron of Tourism Week, is no other than His Majesty King Charles III and he is no stranger to the beauty of Herefordshire, having visited many times over the years. His most recent visit to Ross-on-Wye took place in 2019 where he was invited to officially launch the Gilpin 2020 Festival, celebrating the town’s role as the birthplace of British tourism. Mayor, Jane Roberts BEM, accompanied His Royal Highness to the Market House in the centre of town to meet local traders and producers.

Prince Charles, Market House, Ross-on-Wye – 2019

In February 2022, Prince Charles visited Hereford Cathedral to learn about the historic building’s future due to his long-standing relationship as patron of the Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust since 2004. One of his earlier visits to the cathedral was in April 1985 when he was accompanied by Princess Diana.

Prince Charles & Princess Diana’s visit to Hereford Cathedral – 1985

His first visit to Herefordshire as monarch, took place more recently when he visited Hereford’s Royal National College for the Blind in his role as their patron, on 12 December 2022, to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

Speaking in 2016, Prince Charles commented: “I personally believe that we are incredibly lucky to be blessed with such a rich assortment of historic and cultural gems in this country, not to mention the jewel of our national parks and, above all, some of the wonders of our many hidden gardens, which are once again ready to amaze and delight visitors.”

To help you plan your next trip to the area, browse our list of attractions in and around Ross-on-Wye or take a look at Visit Herefordshire’s website for more ideas.