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New research shows scale of initial impact on Hertfordshire’s visitor economy from Covid-19

08 Mar 22
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Visit Herts’ latest Economic Impact Model for 2020 published today shows the severe initial impact on the county’s visitor economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 52% drop in visitors overall compared to 2019, and a 53% decline in value.

Independent research commissioned by Hertfordshire’s official Destination Management Organisation has revealed that £65 million was spent on average in the local economy each month in 2020, as a direct result of the county’s tourism and hospitality industry (compared to £139 million on average in 2019).

The number of tourism jobs across the county also showed a decrease of 30% between 2019 and 2020, to 30,389, accounting for 5% of total employment in Hertfordshire in 2020.

These latest figures provide a detailed – and incredibly important - picture of the impact on Hertfordshire’s tourism and hospitality sector from the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the first UK National Lockdown taking place from March 2020.

Using the industry-respected Cambridge Economic Impact Model, the study measured the volume and value of tourism within the county in 2020, and the effect of visits and visitor expenditure on the local economy.

While the tourism and hospitality picture was exceptionally challenging throughout the region in 2020, these latest findings do show that the county’s visitor economy performed above the national average across several areas.

When looking specifically at trip purpose, the proportion of those travelling to visit friends and relatives overnight in Hertfordshire during 2020 rose by 16% (up from 44% in 2019 to 60%). This demonstrates the incredible influence that ongoing support from Hertfordshire’s residents – who acted as ambassadors for their county, welcoming friends, and family to experience it first-hand - had on local businesses during a hugely difficult year.

The strong advocacy of the region’s residents was of particular significance during a year which saw the substantial impact that a decline in business travel had on the county – accounting for just 2% of overnight trips, compared to 19% in 2019, pre-pandemic.

Visit Herts Chief Executive, Deirdre Wells OBE, said: “After a strong performance in 2019, our sector’s bold plans for 2020 were utterly disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis. This latest research is a stark demonstration of the direct impact on Hertfordshire’s brilliant tourism, leisure, and hospitality sector, which is one of our county’s biggest employers, and the life and soul of our high streets.

"The findings from 2020’s Economic Impact Study demonstrate exactly why our industry continues to need long-term support from central Government, to enable a sustainable destination recovery.

“We are extremely grateful to our residents who have shown unwavering levels of support to their local businesses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. From eating out to help out and pledges of support, to venue visits with loved ones and switching up their shopping habits, the sense of pride throughout the county has kept our industry going through these unprecedented times.”

The release of the county’s latest Economic Impact findings coincides with the recent launch of a brand-new project to deliver culture-led regeneration across the county.

The programme, titled Driving creative innovation and culture-led regeneration through the film industry, aims to capitalise on the world-leading hub of film and TV studios located in South Hertfordshire to ensure that the wider community benefits from these assets.

With Creative England data showing that location filming was worth £20 million to Hertfordshire’s local economy in 2016/17, this exciting new project offers a fantastic opportunity to support sustainable destination recovery for the future. The Driving creative innovation and culture-led regeneration through the film industry project is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.

Deirdre continued: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Hertfordshire Growth Hub and University of Hertfordshire on this latest project. Capitalising on the opportunities afforded to Hertfordshire as a direct result of the creative industries - be that through investing in skills, supporting the film industry supply chain at every level, or providing new, tangible ways for our visitors to experience movie magic  within our destination – will be critical in supporting the recovery of our destination post-pandemic. Thanks to incredible collaborations like this county-wide, we’re confident that we can build a vibrant, sustainable, and resilient industry for the future, together.”

Neil Hayes, CEO, Hertfordshire LEP, added: “These latest figures show the scale of impact COVID-19 has had on our previously thriving visitor economy and illustrates the real need to drive recovery in this hugely important sector. Thanks to Hertfordshire’s 100% successful application to the Community Renewal Fund, we are able to support a raft of programmes that will help champion local businesses and sectors most impacted by the pandemic. This culture-led project delivered in partnership by Visit Herts with our flagship business support service Hertfordshire Growth Hub and the University of Hertfordshire will help us to further capitalise on our fantastic film and TV assets and ensure the wider community can benefit.”

To access the full Hertfordshire Tourism Economic Impact Study 2020 report, along with a selection of district-specific reports, click here.

These latest figures show the scale of impact COVID-19 has had on our previously thriving visitor economy and illustrates the real need to drive recovery in this hugely important sector. Thanks to Hertfordshire’s 100% successful application to the Community Renewal Fund, we are able to support a raft of programmes that will help champion local businesses and sectors most impacted by the pandemic.
Neil Hayes Neil HayesCEO, Hertfordshire LEP
These latest figures show the scale of impact COVID-19 has had on our previously thriving visitor economy and illustrates the real need to drive recovery in this hugely important sector. Thanks to Hertfordshire’s 100% successful application to the Community Renewal Fund, we are able to support a raft of programmes that will help champion local businesses and sectors most impacted by the pandemic.
Neil Hayes Neil HayesCEO, Hertfordshire LEP