Mersey visitor economy breaks through the £4.5bn barrier for the first time

10 years ago during Capital of Culture, Liverpool city region’s visitor economy was worth £2.73bn and this has now soared to £4.53bn – supporting 53,500 jobs. Tony McDonough reports

018 Mersey River Festival
Events such as the Mersey River Festival are bringing more and more visitors to Liverpool


Liverpool city region’s visitor economy is now worth more than £4.5bn a year – up from £4.3bn in 2016, according to new figures.

A report commissioned by the Visitor Economy Team at Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) showed the city region welcomed 64.2m visitors in 2017 – a 2.7% increase.

This comprised of 59m day visitors, up 2.8%, and 5.3m staying visitors, up 2.6%. Those staying in paid accommodation rose by 3.6% to 2.6m – the economic impact from this alone rising by 8.9% to £950m.

The data also shows that the visitor economy now supports 53,500 jobs, an increase of 3.5% on 2016.

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Liverpool alone enjoyed a 1.9% rise in visitor numbers of 35.4m with a 2.2% increase in the number of staying visitors – 2.6m – including a 2.1% increase in serviced accommodation stays.

The sector supports almost 35,000 jobs in the city, a 3.2% rise and the economic impact in 2017 was up 5.6% to just over £3bn.

10-year growth

Long-term trends show that from 2009 to 2017, there has been 66% growth in the economic value of the visitor economy to the Liverpool city region, rising from £2.73bn to £4.53bn – this is equivalent to an average growth of around 6.5% per year.

Over the same period there has been an increase in the number of day and staying visitors, rising annually from 52.3m in 2009 to 64.2m in total by 2017.

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The latest figures are published by the STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity) model, which is used throughout the UK tourism industry to measure economic impact of the visitor economy, and International Passenger Survey.

The results are calculated using a range of tourism inputs including hotel occupancy, transport figures, attractions attendance figures and event figures. 

Liverpool Pride 2018
Events such as Liverpool Pride attract thousands of visitors. Picture by David Munn


Overseas visitors

Placed in wider context, Visit Britain’s annual summary, shows an increase of 4.3% in inbound tourism visits in the last year, with the city region recording nearly 3% growth in 2017.

However, the city region has enjoyed nearly 3% growth in the number of days that visitors stayed, whilst the rest of the UK saw a fall of 1.3% on average. 

Peter Sandman, head of Visitor Economy for the LEP, said: “In the 10 years since Liverpool became European Capital of Culture, the city, and region as a whole has seen the visitor economy experience a healthy growth and the sector continues to contribute significantly to the region’s economy.

“It is particularly encouraging to see our overseas visitors staying longer, as well as the number of jobs supported by the sector continuing to grow – which covers a wide range of employment options across accommodation, food and drink, recreation and retail.”

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