Tourism targets smashed as work on new Visitor Plan starts


An organisation set up to promote Plymouth’s potential as a destination has smashed its own targets. 

Destination Plymouth, a private-public partnership set up in 2008, commissioned the city’s first visitor plan in 2010 and has seen numbers of visitors grow over the past few years from just above four million in 2008 to 5.1 million in 2016, the most recent data set available.

New visitor numbers are expected soon and given the significant increase in overseas visits and marketing activity, it is expected they will be above the original target of 4.9 million visitors.

Key representatives from Destination Plymouth will give the city’s Brexit, Infrastructure and Legislative Change Overview Scrutiny Committee an update on 5 September of their achievements as well as ask the committee to help shape plans for the visitor market over the next 10 years.

The report also highlights

  •  Visitor spending up from £273.7 million in 2008 to £321.7 million in 2016 and on track for the £342 million targeted by 2020.
  •  The economic impact has generated new jobs and currently over 7,654 people are employed in the sector – that’s seven per cent of the city’s total employment.

Adrian Vinken, Chair of Destination Plymouth said: “This is an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come and how successful the Visitor Plan has been.”

“We set ambitious targets for growing the city’s visitor economy.  We aimed to attract 20 per cent more visitors, increase their spend in the city by 25 per cent and create 2,800 new jobs by 2025.  We have made some terrific progress to get to this point.  Now we need to look further into the future and decide how to build on this success.”

 “Plymouth is still essentially a day visitor destination.  Over 85 per cent of our visitors fall into this category.  Fourteen percent are UK staying visitors and only one per cent come from overseas. Partners across the city have been working to encourage more staying visitors with significant marketing activity linked to Mayflower 400 as well as working in the cruise sector.”

Destination Plymouth is the Mayflower 400 delivery company led by the Chair Adrian Vinken and Mayflower 400 Chief Executive Charles Hackett who is developing the emerging Mayflower 400 programme into an internationally significant commemoration in 2020.

Destination Plymouth successfully secured over £1 million grant funding from Visit England and the DCMS for Mayflower activities and have been working in the US market for two years to encourage visitors to the UK in 2020 and beyond.

Adrian said: “This overseas activity has started to bear fruit with some early bookings coming forward from tour operators for both 2019 and 2020.”

Other delivery targets of the visitor plan included key projects such as the Royal William Yard and Commercial Wharf, attracting more hotel development plus a greater number of higher quality major events.

Council Leader Tudor Evans added: “This report is a great opportunity to take stock of what Destination Plymouth has achieved for Plymouth as well as think more about its future direction.

“A decade ago Plymouth people were asking what’s tourism going to do for us?  The answer is jobs, money into local businesses and into people’s wallets, places to go and to be entertained, not to mention the feeling that they live in a great city that puts on cracking events.

“We have more to do – which is why we continue to invest in amazing projects such as The Box, which will be so much more than a visitor attraction, it will be somewhere for educational and cultural opportunities for Plymouth residents.

 “We also need to take advantage of opportunities that open up to us. As a city we are constantly evolving and regenerating. Plymouth could become home to the first National Marine Park – how will that attract tourists?”

The process of refreshing the visitor plan has started and Destination Plymouth has begun talking with key stakeholders about their ideas.  

It is hoped that the new plan will be launched in 2019.