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Image Paul Box

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Visitor Economy

The Bristol and South Gloucestershire tourism economy is worth £1.4bn annually and supports almost 29,000 jobs.

The visitor economy in the Bristol region is one of the biggest in the UK.  To measure this, we rely on national data that is then used to develop an Economic Impact report by an independent company.  We also measure hotel occupancy and key visitor trends to ensure that we have a better understanding of the market during the year.

As well as measuring the volume and value of the visitor economy, we also commission specific research looking at the volume and value of the conference and meetings sector. In 2019, in partnership with the University of the West of England, we are also conducting more detailed visitor research using surveys completed online and in person.

The Volume and Value of Tourism - Full Report 2018

We commission an annual ‘Volume and Value of Tourism’ report from an independent research company.  This is gives us information about tourism in the administrative boundaries of Bristol and South Gloucestershire and are reported as one total.

Due to the complex process of constructing the reports, these are generally released in the Autumn of the following year.  

Overnight trips

The final report for 2018 tells us the following:

  • Estimated total domestic staying trips:        2,100,000
  • Estimated total international staying trips:      598,000
  • Total staying trips:                                     2,698,000

While the total number of international trips is slightly lower than in 2017, the number of nights increased by 7% in Bristol and 14% in South Gloucestershire and spend increased by 4% across the regions - so visitors are staying longer and spending more.  Domestically, the number of trips and visitor nights increased, but spend remained on a par with 2017.

In Bristol, overseas visitors average 6.85 nights per trip, with an average spend per night of £53.44 – an average spend per trip of £366.29.  A figure roughly the same for South Gloucestershire.


Domestic staying visitors average 2.26 nights per trip, with an average spend per night of £74.31 – an average spend per trip of £168.12

Please note that staying visits does not mean that all stays were in hotels.  This also accounts for those staying with friends and family and other forms of accommodation.

Bristol paddleboarders

Day Visitors

Estimated total day visits                          20.5m

Day visitors have an average spend per trip of £39.07 in Bristol and £37.66 in South Gloucestershire.

  • The value of the Visitor Economy in Bristol and South Gloucestershire was £1.394bn
  • Total tourism supported business turnover is estimated at £1.85bn
  • Tourism accounts for an estimated 29, 046 actual jobs – 21,654 FTE

Business turnover arises as a result of tourist spending, from the purchase of supplies and services locally by businesses in receipt of visitor spending and as a result of the spending of wages in businesses by employees whose jobs are directly or indirectly supported by tourism spending.

We produce a monthly business barometer reporting on visitor numbers and occupancy in the local area, produced using a proportionately high sample and therefore giving a relatively robust report. More details are available on request and new participants are welcome.

Bristol theatre

International Visitors 2018

The International Passenger Survey (IPS) data has now been published for 2018 and Bristol has seen its second highest number of international staying trips with 598,000 taking place in 2018, retaining the position of 7th most visited town or city in the UK by international visitors. 

While the number of trips overall fell by 0.7% (against a national average of -3.34%) the number of staying nights increased by almost 7% (national average -6.5%) and the total expenditure by nearly 2% (national average -6.6%)

This shows that international trips are staying longer and spending more.

Using the IPS data as a benchmark, Bristol’s top 10 international markets by estimated total trips are (in order): 

  1. Spain
  2. Germany
  3. Republic of Ireland
  4. France
  5. Netherlands
  6. USA
  7. Poland
  8. Italy
  9. Australia
  10. Belgium

More detail on the international markets 2018 data can be found on our corporate blog

In 2018, data for the Bristol UA area was as follows:

Number of visits - 597,830

-0.74% *

Total expenditure (GBP)- £203.71 m

+1.75% *

Total nights spent - 4.10 m

+6.72% *

Average length of stay (Nights) - 6.86

+7.55% *

Average spend per visit (GBP) - £341

+2.58% *

* Change from 2017

Treasure Island Trail Bristol

Conference, social and business events - 2018

Results from 2018 reveal that conferences and meetings business in Bristol was broadly the same as 2017. Volume of events (and delegates) was marginally down but overall conference spend broadly on a par with the 2017 level.  The number of social banquets was also on a par with 2017 but estimated levels of spend were up.

Volume and value of Business Events

• In 2018, there were an estimated 29,700 business events at Bristol venues. These generated an estimated 1.7million delegates accounting for nearly 2.6m event days.
• The estimated spend by delegates on venues and in destination is £307m.
• In addition to business events, venues in Bristol hosted approximately 5,000 social banqueting events in 2018.

• These events generated an estimated 588,000 visits in Bristol and £22m of spend at venues.

Aerospace Bristol events

Dimensions of the Events Market

Number of events

There was an average of 358 events per venue in Bristol in 2018.

Levels of residential / non-residential business

• Most of conference business (68%) was day visiting (i.e. non-staying). About 18% of Bristol event business was residential at the event venue with a further 14% staying in the wider destination.

Event Duration

• The average event duration event duration was 1.5 days. Most events (69%) lasted a day or less.

Useful links to more research

https://www.visitbritain.org/england-research-insights

https://www.visitbritain.org/inbound-research-insights

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