Latest research from Experience Oxfordshire indicates visitors’ positive perceptions, and businesses’ cautious concerns, on the Visitor Economy’s road to recovery

Apr 29 2022

Experience Oxfordshire, the Destination Management Organisation (DMO) for Oxfordshire, has released the results of two surveys it commissioned to ascertain the level of confidence amongst Oxfordshire’s visitor economy businesses and the views of potential visitors.

Almost two thirds of business who responded to the Business Survey 2022 said that their trading for 2021 was worse than in 2019, but depending on the type of business, there were signs of positive recovery with 24% of respondents saying that trading for the end of 2021 was better than expected.

The picture across the industry is very mixed. As they look ahead, almost three in five still expect their business performance to be below 2019 levels, but others are optimistic with 31% expecting their business performance for 2022 to be better than 2019.

Staffing, both in recruitment and retention were stated as significant issues for businesses and shifting consumer behaviours within the domestic market towards shorter, more frequent breaks were requiring businesses to change their operating practices.

Asked what interventions would help their recovery, operators called for more marketing and communications to domestic audiences; continuation of government grants; a suspension or reduction of business rates; and action and investment to attract more visitors.

Overwhelmingly positive views were expressed by the enthusiastic respondents to the Consumer Survey. Eight out of ten respondents find Oxfordshire appealing as a leisure destination and almost nine out of ten respondents would consider visiting Oxfordshire in the future.

Eighty-five percent of respondents associated Oxfordshire with history and heritage, 75% with museums and galleries and 64% with arts and culture. Over half commented on the attractiveness of the countryside just under a third attributed walking, cycling, the range of gardens and gourmet pubs and restaurants, with the county. A quarter said it was easy to get to and recognised it as a destination for shopping, events, and festivals. The city of Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Woodstock, and Bicester were the area’s most respondents had previously visited.

Amongst those who had previously considered Oxfordshire for a holiday, Covid was cited as the main reason for not making the trip, but now that travel restrictions are no longer in place most respondents felt sufficiently confident to travel.

Most respondents live in the southeast region, followed by southwest, London and West Midlands with seven out of ten living within a two-hour drive time from Oxfordshire. Two in five claim to visit several times a year, and a third to visit once or twice a year. With day trips making up over half of all visits taken by respondents (midweek day trips accounting for a third of all visits) and short breaks (including short and long weekend breaks as well as mid-week breaks) accounting for a third of all visits, Oxfordshire has a strong customer base on which to build back its visitor economy.

Commenting on the results of the surveys, Experience Oxfordshire’s CEO, Hayley Beer-Gamage said:

“The surveys have produced extremely useful insights which Experience Oxfordshire will use in its work supporting the county’s visitor economy. Our Economic Impact Report 2020 showed the staggering effect, and consequent decline, that the pandemic had on tourism in Oxfordshire. These recent surveys show how, as we build back the visitor economy, there is real interest from visitors in spending time in Oxfordshire, but business still has challenges to face and therefore recovery across the sector is likely to be uneven. Support for, and intervention on behalf of, the visitor economy remains essential.

Experience Oxfordshire will be working hard to ensure that the county is top of mind amongst those planning to take short-breaks and day trips. It’s heartening to see from the Consumer Survey, that amongst potential visitors, Oxfordshire retains its place as an attractive and desirable destination to visit.”

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NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

  • The results quoted here are based on the responses of 114 Oxfordshire businesses and 502 consumers (registered to receive information from Experience Oxfordshire) to a ‘have your say’ online platform style surveys using structured questionnaires. The process and analysis were managed by Destination Research.
  • Top level findings from the Business Survey can be seen here.
  • Top level findings from the Consumer Survey can be seen at here.
  • The Economic Impact Report for Tourism in Oxfordshire 2020, commissioned by Experience Oxfordshire, showed a 59% decline in the value of tourism (from £2.5billion in 2019 to £1billion) and a substantial decline of 39% in jobs supported by sector (from 42,000 to 25,000). The summary of the report can be found here.

Experience Oxfordshire is the official Destination Management Organisation (DMO) for Oxfordshire. We are the trading arm of the parent charity, Experience Oxfordshire Charitable Trust, and are a not-for-profit partnership organisation that is committed to the promotion, management, and development of Oxfordshire as a great destination to live, work, visit and do business whilst improving growth and productivity across the visitor economy. The DMO provides essential business advice and support to visitor economy businesses across Oxfordshire.

For more information about Experience Oxfordshire go to www.experienceoxfordshire.org/partner

Contact:
Name: Lesley Wright

Email: press@experienceoxfordshire.org

Call: 01865 686433