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Figures show severe impact of Covid-19 on Oxfordshire's visitor economy 

In 2020, there was a 51% drop in trips to the county and tourism spend was down by 77% compared to the year before.

Experience Oxfordshire, the Destination Management Organisation for the county, has released new data on the economic impact of tourism for 2020 which shows the severe impact the pandemic has had on Oxfordshire's visitor economy. 

The Economic Impact Report for Tourism in Oxfordshire shows a staggering 59% decline in the value of tourism (from £2.5billion to £1billion) and a substantial decline of 39% in jobs supported by sector (from 42,000 to 25,000).

Experience Oxfordshire says the figures reinforce the importance and vulnerability of the visitor economy, and raise concern for the post pandemic recovery. 

Overall, there was a 51% decline in trip volume from 30million in 2019 to 14.5million in 2020. Cherwell received the most visits during 2020 (27%) closely followed by Oxford city (24%) with the highest visitor spend continuing to take place in the city at 33% of all spend across the county. 

According to VisitBritain estimates, spending by domestic tourism in Britain in 2020 was down 63% compared to 2019 with inbound visitor spend down by 73%. Domestic tourism spend in Oxfordshire was down by 61% in Oxfordshire and inbound down by 77% across the county. 

Oxford city was impacted the most severely with a decline in visitor spend of 66% and 51% decline in jobs in the sector. 

In contrast, in 2019 the county had a record year for the visitor economy and these figures show the severity of the impact Covid-19 and the challenge of returning to pre pandemic levels of employment and investment. The report also highlights the importance of overnight stays and inbound visitors to the county.

Business visits were significantly impacted with just 9% of visitors coming for a business visit in 2020 compared to 29% in 2019. 

Chief Executive of Experience Oxfordshire, Hayley Beer-Gamage, said: "We knew that the impact of the pandemic on Oxfordshire's visitor economy would be significant, but these figures show just how severe the impact was in 2020 and this of course continued throughout 2021 and now into 2022.  

"The range of support for the sector from government throughout the pandemic has been welcomed but more is needed to ensure that businesses remain viable for the future and the county can prosper again. The figures show just how far we have to go to return to pre pandemic value and volume levels.

"We hope that local and national government will continue to support the work of Experience Oxfordshire in assisting our partners and the wider sector going forward as we work closely with local stakeholders on recovery plans."

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council and Economic Development and Partnerships portfolio holder, said: "The report clearly shows how important tourism is to our city and the loss of over £665million to our local economy with a consequent 66% reduction in jobs is clearly of great concern to us all.

"The City Council has supported businesses impacted specifically in the visitor economy sector with a range of grants and continues to prioritise those most impacted through our funding.

"The City Council had also identified the need to expand hotel accommodation in the city and created local planning policies that have seen the development of a number of reasonably priced hotels in Oxford over the last few years, encouraging tourists to stay overnight and spend more money in the city rather than just make a fleeting visit."

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