Key Shropshire Sector: Visitor Economy (and heritage based businesses)
Visitors to Shropshire play an important part in our economy. Attracted here by our outstanding countryside, culture and heritage, they spend some £539 million a year on goods and services in our market towns and rural areas and support nearly 14,767 full-time equivalent jobs.
This spending generates a further £200 million in spending by businesses on supplies – directly benefiting companies in food and drink, manufacturing, retail, recreational activities, design, print, advertising, IT, the media and many more.
Total visitor trips number 11.6 million, of which 1.2 million are staying trips and 10.4 million are day visits. Overseas visitors stayed for 751,000 nights on 84,000 trips, spending £33.2 million (year).
Despite this success, the Shropshire visitor economy has enormous potential to grow visitor spending further and create jobs by increasing both day visits and overnight stays, particularly from the “easy to reach” West Midland and northwest conurbations.
The recent public and private investments in Shropshire and external major grant awards for heritage and landscape projects are evidence of the commitment to growing the sector from everybody involved. For instance, investment in the Telford International Centre and Southwater in neighbouring Telford, has put the County in the top five conference venues in the country.
The public sector has invested heavily in the sector over the last few decades, opening the new Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, Theatre Severn, Old Market Hall Cinema and Digital Arts Centre and upgrading the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, Acton Scott Historic Working Farm and Much Wenlock Museum.
Shropshire has approximately 60 visitor attractions and activity businesses whose core business is tourism. The National Trust and English Heritage are well represented with country houses, ruined castles and abbeys and countryside sites.
Visitor stays support approximately 1,000 accommodation businesses across both serviced and self-catering sectors, ranging from single unit bed and breakfast and self-catering providers through to brands such as Premier Inn, Mercure, McDonalds, Holiday Inn Express, Principal Hayley and Travelodge.
There are funding schemes available to assist those in the tourism sector improve their offer and set up business here, as well as first class training courses (some accompanied by financial support) to enhance workforce skills.
“Being in an industry requiring specialist skills from our workforce, we are able to attract the right type of personnel who are willing to relocate to Shropshire from all over Great Britain as it’s such a wonderful county in which to live and work. It’s a great attraction for young families due to our excellent countryside, leisure facilities, schools and medical facilities. As our name implies, we have always been proud of our Shropshire heritage.”
Tony Bywater, Managing Director, Salop Leisure Ltd