Visitor numbers up but overnight stays across the Borough drop

COLCHESTER: Official figures released this week have shown a rise in visitors to the town and are being described as “encouraging” by a leading Councillor.

Colchester Council have released the data which has shown day trips to the Borough have risen by 6.5 per cent, compared with 2.6 per cent and 2.8 per cent in previous years.

The same report, compiled by the Cambridge Economic Impact Model shows that during 2017, overnight stays in the town fell by 0.4 per cent, compared with the same period in 2016.

Cllr. Tim Young (Lab), Portfolio Holder for Business and Culture, said: “Attracting visitors to Colchester continues to be a key strategic priority for the council. These latest figures are extremely encouraging and prove that the area is delivering a great tourism offering to visitors.

“However, we are very aware that tourism is a long-term strategy and converting visitors to stay over is a pivotal part of the work that we are doing now in 2018 – for instance, launching Colchester’s first ever TV advert on Sky earlier this year.”

The SkyTV ad, produced and distributed by London film company Silverfish Films, was viewed 459,651 times, according to official figures.

READ MORE: Council chiefs ‘delighted’ with TV ad viewership results

In the official report, Colchester attracted a total of 6,475,000 trips with an associated value reported to be worth £225,099,000.

However, critics of the Cambridge Model claim data used to create the official report is flawed. Scott Everest, Customer Experience Consultant and Hospitality Specialist, said: “I am disappointed to read about the Economic impact of the Tourism Report for 2018 that was compiled using the Cambridge Model. This is for two reasons.

“Firstly the data is taken from a snapshot and scaled up. Even the creator states that the methodology and random probabilities of the data mean that it cannot be used to accurately compare Year-on-Year data but in this instance, that is what has been done.

“Secondly, the quality of the data is also dubious. This is due to the majority of attractions in Colchester not submitting visitor numbers to Visit Britain or Visit Essex. This would mean that visitor numbers are calculated by a guess to give an estimate.

“I’d like to call on Colchester Council to collate visitor numbers accurately on a monthly basis and publish the results, and to subscribe to the hotel industry STR reports which will give you exact night stays and Average Room Rates. This is only way to accurately record growth and to nudge promotional activity through channels in an effective manner.”

STR reports are produced by the STAR program and used by the global hotel industry as a vital revenue management tool. The report benchmarks a hotel’s performance against its competitive aggregate and local market. The STAR program tracks and delivers monthly, weekly and daily data.

Council officials have said the marginal dip in overnight figures is a trend replicated across Essex and work is ongoing with Visit Essex to understand the factors affecting this.

A new tourism campaign is planned for the end of the year and is reported to include a further run of the television campaign and a number of events, all planned to promote Colchester as a key tourist destination in the East of England.