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Visitor numbers top 8 million for the first time

Tuesday, 12th December 2017

New research reveals that nearly 8.2 million visitors came to the National Forest in 2016, and that tourism spend has now reached £395.2m, sustaining 4,849 FTE jobs.

John Everitt, Chief Executive for the National Forest Company, said: “This increase in numbers is great news for the local and regional economy, and is a great benchmark to measure the success of our new tourism growth plan which seeks to develop sustainable tourism in the Forest and increase spend and jobs by 15%.”

The National Forest Company recently launched a Tourism Growth Plan for the National Forest over the next ten years, building on 25 years of successful partnership working with local businesses and local authorities, to strengthen and grow sustainable tourism in the National Forest.

The first expression of the Growth Plan will be the new Timber festival, taking place in the Forest in July 2018. The festival will bring visitors and communities together, for an awe-inspiring celebration of the transformational impact of the National Forest.

Other investment opportunities for green growth as highlighted in the Plan include new Forest-related attractions, additional high-quality accommodation in a woodland setting, and events and activities that harness the appeal of the National Forest, one of the UK’s most accessible woodland destinations.

The landscape and economy of the Forest’s 200 square miles have been transformed by the planting of over eight and a half million trees over the last 25 years, taking woodland cover from a meagre 6% in the early 1990s, to over 20.2% today, more than double the national average.

Since 2003, when the National Forest figures were first collated, the number of people visiting the Forest has gone up by 20.6% (1.4 million), with the value of the visitor economy increasing by 22.1% (£71.6m). The value of visitors staying in serviced accommodation has increased 17% (to £72.6m) and visitors staying in non-serviced accommodation has increased 320.5% (to £19.4m), a spectacular surge due to the expansion in forest-related accommodation, attractions and events.