Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 15.22.10Visit County Durham is once again supporting English Tourism Week, Visit England’s national initiative aimed at raising the profile of the tourism industry.

English Tourism Week 2016, which runs until 13 March, is designed to promote the value of the industry at a national and local level. This week sees hundreds of attractions, hotels and other tourism businesses across English counties – including Durham – delivering special events, promotions and competitions to encourage more visitors through their doors and inspire people to become tourism ambassadors for their local area.

Here in Durham, tourism is important to the local economy with the latest figures for the county showing 18.14 million visits generate visitor expenditure of £752m, supporting nearly 11,000 jobs. The county has also seen significant investment in recent years, with new ventures and developments resulting in more visitors, offering more scope for the county to benefit.

With that in mind, Visit County Durham is hosting a networking event at Seaham Hall in Seaham on Thursday designed to showcase the quality and vibrancy of Durham’s tourism industry, and to inform key stakeholders and tourism businesses of the exciting developments happening in their county.

It is also fitting that as English Tourism Week gets underway that an octogenarian working in tourism in Durham has scooped the national accolade of Tourism Superstar 2016. Lilian Groves, 87, a volunteer tour guide at Durham Cathedral in Durham City, won a public vote to secure the prestigious award, the second consecutive Tourism Superstar win from Durham after Matthew Henderson from Beamish Museum was victorious last year.

Michelle Gorman, managing director of Visit County Durham, said: “This year promises to be another very exciting year for Durham with a number of new ventures launching. Tourism is absolutely vital to the Durham economy and English Tourism Week is the perfect opportunity to showcase our county’s fantastic visitor offer.”

Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, said: “Tourism plays an essential role in Durham, making a major contribution to the county’s economy, supporting local businesses and creating jobs. We will continue to work closely with our partners across the industry to promote everything that makes the county such a great place to visit and, this English Tourism Week, would like to encourage businesses to see our exciting range of plans.”

To find out what’s going on across the county during English Tourism Week 2016, visit: http://www.thisisdurham.com/english-tourism-week/events