Sunny bank holiday brings in £73m holiday boost to Devon and Cormwall
Sunshine has brought a smile to the Westcountry during a bumper Bank Holiday weekend that promises to deliver a multi-million boost to the region.
Tourism bosses predict some £73 million will have been spent in Devon and Cornwall over the three days as holiday cottages, campsites and hotels continue to enjoy their best summer business in years.
Malcolm Bell, head of tourism at VisitCornwall, hailed a "real turnaround" in the industry in recent weeks.
"Things were looking pretty dire in mid-June. But there's been a real turnaround over the past few weeks and we've now overtaken last year," he said.
Thousands of visitors poured into the South West on Friday to bask in the UK's best weather with largely clear blue skies and warm temperatures.
It is a far cry from 12 months ago, when relentlessly soggy weather forced the cancellation of many key events, during one of the wettest summers on record.
Mr Bell said: "We've had three tough years and last year was especially tough. But now lots of people are out and about with a smile on their faces."
Industry chiefs estimate a grand total of £172,524,363 will have been spent in the region across the entire August Bank Holiday week, including more than £38m in Cornwall this weekend.
Robin Barker, who leads Devon-based company Services for Tourism, said: "The West is the place to be this year, especially with the good weather, the beaches, festivals and all the food and drink on offer. There are plenty of reasons for optimism – once people come to the region, they want to come back again."
The 'big winners' in the region are camp sites, holiday parks, and hotels as well as the food and drink sector according to business leaders.
Carolyn Custerson, chairman of Visit Devon, said: "Tourism is one of the leading industries in Devon – and we have proved this year that we can really deliver economically for the region."
Many businesses are reporting a 20% increase in bookings on the same month last year.
Tracey Parker, of Parkland caravan and camping site in Kingsbridge, South Devon, praised the weather for a "very good summer".
"Camping has always been popular, but the recession has actually been good for us because it's meant families with young children want to go away for a few days at a cheap cost," she added.
Lawrence Bird, who works at a caravan and camping park in the Padstow area of Cornwall, added that the weather has a "big impact" on visitor numbers.
The surge in business has also been attributed to a staycation boost, with people opting to stay at home and take advantage of what their local area offers.
Laura Holt, deputy chairman of Visit Devon, said: "It's a tribute to the strength and quality of the Devon offer, and the fantastic talent of our tourism industry, that we are seeing so much success."