Tourism is vital tool for our economic growth

TOURISM in Calderdale is estimated to sustain 4,200 jobs and be worth £250 million.

Beautiful countryside, festivals, and museums were among the main drivers for visitors, according to a report to the communities scrutiny panel.

Cabinet member Pauline Nash said the council recognised the importance of tourism and would be working to build on potential.

“There are a lot of opportunities and we have to make the best of them,” she said.

“Tourism is definitely the way forward for income generation in Calderdale and we will be exploring all possibilities.

“Statistics show Calderdale has real potential.”

A Calderdale Tourism Board was formed late 2010 to promote tourism and its successes include promoting cycling events. And, the council received more than 11,000 hits on its website relating to cycling activity.

Development opportunities include events and festivals which are seen to have significant economic benefit.

The Halifax Festival attracted over 10,000 visitors this year who spent nearly £200,000 in the town centre.

Support for small businesses to help them grow and develop is also seen as a key to developing tourism.

The Yorkshire Regional Visitor Survey (2010-11) revealed Calderdale to be a predominantly day visitor destination attracting an average £12.04 per person spend (excluding evening spend) - below the £16.69 average for West Yorkshire.

Of more than 400 people interviewed in Calderdale, 65 per cent were repeat visitors and 98 per cent were from the UK.

Calderdale compared well with other areas for its range of natural attractions and visitor satisfaction levels were high.

Future work will look at converting day visitors into staying visitors and increasing spending opportunities.

The current tourism plan expires in March 2012 and a new plan will be decided by cabinet that month.