This is an archived press release
Tuesday 24 May 2005
24 May 2005
Tourism boost for the Peak District
Peak District tourism is hoping for a good year - with an excellent response to the area's first Walking Festival and a 64 per cent rise in visits to its modernised National Park visitor centres.
At Castleton's new visitor centre, officially opened in July last year, visits reached 229,000 over the 12 months to April 2005. And Bakewell visitor centre - housed in the historic 17th-century Old Market Hall - generated 192,500 visits after extensive refurbishment.
Sue Beswick, Peak District National Park Authority visitor services manager, said: "We've seen a phenomenal increase, boosting overall visitor numbers to our centres to just under 500,000 from its previous 292,000.
"Tourist information staff have coped well with the rise in demand, they not only help promote better understanding of this special place, they bring benefits to the local economy by directing people to accommodation or places to visit."
The staff also coped with a huge volume of calls to the Visitor Information Line (0870 444 7275) during the Peak District's first Walking Festival (April 16-May 2).
A total of 2,082 walks were booked out of a possible 2,871, a take-up of 72 per cent, with the Bakewell centre - under new manager Don Symonds - processing 1,542 telephone bookings.
Andy Guffogg, head of sustainable tourism, said: "The Walking Festival was a tremendous success, we had 100 per cent take-up on the final Bank Holiday Monday. This was thanks to the tremendous effort and commitment of our own staff and partner organisations, all working together to launch the festival and help visitors enjoy the experience of the Peak District."
The Walking Festival, which was aimed at boosting overnight visitors in the quieter springtime, is already planned to be repeated next year from April 22 to May 7.
Visit Peak District, the tourism partnership which organised the festival, not only markets the area, but supports the tourist trade with business events - including a tourism workshop at Matlock's Masson Mills on June 16, and the Great Peak District Fair in October, sponsored in part by prominent businesses including the Derbyshire Building Society.
Visit Peak District's glossy Visitor Guide generated over a 100 per cent rise in overnight stays directly influenced by the guide - up to 227,500 (104,200 in 2003), a Heart of England Tourism survey revealed.
This brought some £5.3m of extra spending into the local economy, compared with £3.1m the previous year. Visit Peak District marketing manager David Bourque said: "This represents a big contribution to the economy of the Peak District, and it shows that our marketing - which includes the www.visitpeakdistrict.com website - is on the right track and improving all the time."
Visit Peak District is a partnership of local tourism interests including the Peak District National Park Authority, High Peak, Derbyshire Dales and Staffordshire Moorlands councils, Derbyshire Chamber and Business Link and the University of Derby.