31 Jan 2023
New research reveals an encouraging picture of recovery for St Albans' Tourism Industry
Visit Herts’ latest Economic Impact Model for 2021 published today shows promising signs of early recovery for St Albans’ tourism industry, with the value of St Albans’ visitor economy increasing to more than £150 million, a 43% growth from 2020. The research also reveals that more than 1.7 million combined day and overnight trips were undertaken in the district in 2021. The number of tourism jobs across the district also increased by 16% on 2020 data to 3,081 jobs, accounting for 4% of total employment in St Albans, despite the Government furlough scheme ending in September 2021.
These latest figures provide the first look at the rebuild and recovery of St Albans’ tourism and hospitality sector during 2021. Using the industry-respected Cambridge Economic Impact Model, the study measured the volume and value of tourism within the district in 2021, and the effect of visits and visitor expenditure on the local economy throughout this tumultuous period. England entered its third national lockdown on 6th January 2021 and began the 4 Step roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions, which only formally ended in July 2021. The Government then also announced the ‘Plan B’ measures in December 2021 following the rise of the Omicron variant.
The results also magnify the extent of the damage that the COVID-19 pandemic caused to St Albans’ tourism and hospitality sector. St Albans’ visitor economy value in 2021 remained 29% lower than 2019, and international overnight stays were down 25% on 2020. However, these latest findings also show that the district’s visitor economy performed above the national average across several areas, and Hertfordshire’s visitor economy benefitted from exceptionally high levels of domestic overnight tourism spending. When compared to the national growth projection of 64%, St Albans’ domestic overnight tourism spend increased by an incredible 92% on 2020, generating more than £38.4 million in 2021.
Part funder of the research, St Albans BID, is pleased to receive the report. Vivien Cannon, BID manager said, “Visitor data indicators help BID, its businesses and partners test our lived experience against measurable quantitative information. The data is a year in arears, 2021, yet it provides comparable insights. Many businesses will agree that their Covid recovery remains ongoing to this day. The new cost-of-living crisis now adds a second huge blow to recovery which cannot be underestimated moving forward. For that reason, sight of economic recovery figures is positive news although there is plenty of room for ongoing improvement.
For BID in its role of promotor of St Albans city, we can see that our reputation as a foodie destination is recognised in the level of spend in 2021. We can also see that we are going in the right direction in promoting to the local and domestic audience, the plethora of leisure experiences and activities that are on the doorstep in this amazing city with its creative and steadfast businesses community. All ideal for hosting visits from families and friends which data suggests was a key economic marker in 2021. Staycations are likely to remain a choice for many in 2022.”
Visit Herts Chief Executive, Deirdre Wells OBE, said: “After the devasting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fantastic to see vast improvement across St Albans’ visitor economy in 2021. Through the uncertain and chaotic times, Hertfordshire’s tourism, leisure, and hospitality sector showed itself to be a resilient sector filled with hardworking people and businesses – and an industry extremely valued by local residents, who showed unwavering support in 2021.
Deirdre continued: “We have an exciting year ahead at Visit Herts as we build on the legacy of the Community Renewal Funded project and cement Hertfordshire’s place as one of the UK’s top screen tourism destinations. It is also clear that the impact of the Cost-of-Living Crisis will continue to impact our industry and the repercussions of the pandemic world-wide will continue for years to come. Only with continued collaborations county-wide, and Government support, we will be able to show that St Albans is a strong, adaptable, and attractive destination for visitors in 2023.”
To access the full St Albans Tourism Economic Impact Study 2021 report, along with a county-wide report, please visit: https://www.visithertsbusiness.co.uk/insights-and-resources/