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Reading Tourism Worth Nearly £400 Million A Year

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Tourism contributes almost £400 million a year to the Reading economy, according to a new report published by REDA, Reading’s Destination and Economy Agency. The Economic Impact of Tourism on Reading report, which has been commissioned for Reading for the first time in 2023, estimates that £392.9 million was spent in the local area as a result of tourism from both day visits and overnight stays.

The report estimates that the Reading visitor economy supports over 6700 jobs directly and indirectly, providing work to almost 6% of the local working population. The retail sector is the greatest beneficiary of visitor spend in Reading, benefitting from over £100 million of spend, closely followed by restaurants, bars and cafes. Visitors also spend over £42 million in Reading’s hotels and other serviced accommodation providers. 

Overall, Reading receives nearly seven million visits a year, with the vast majority of those being day trips which generate a spend of over £180 million. However, the higher spending half a million overnight visitors contribute over £120 million in hotel stays, meals, shopping, attraction visits and transport costs.

Leisure stays make up over 40% of total overnight stays in Reading with the majority of UK overnight visitors here for leisure purposes compared to under 10% of total overseas visitors here for the same reason. One quarter of overnight stays are for business reasons with 27% of overseas stays for work reasons and just under a quarter of UK overnight trip nights work-related. Visits to friends and relatives make up a significant percentage of overnight stays (25%), particularly for overseas visitors (45%).

Day visits are the largest contributor to the Reading visitor economy both numerically and value-wise with almost 6.5 million trips generating £189 million a year. 

Alex Brannen, Tourism Lead at REDA said: “Reading has an amazing tourism offer for visitors, from great shopping to tours of Reading Abbey Ruins and River Thames cruises, excellent conference and meeting venues and the cream of hotels in the Thames Valley. Post pandemic, as working styles, this report shows how important both leisure visits and business visitors are to Reading’s economy.

“Reading’s visitor economy is worth nearly £400 million to the town, according to the estimates generated by this report. However, the true value of this report will be to provide REDA with a benchmark against which to judge future economic growth relating to tourism and the visitor economy.”

REDA is the lead organisation for tourism in Reading, co-ordinating the many businesses involved in tourism through the Reading Tourism Group. REDA takes a lead in marketing Reading as a leisure and business tourism destination through a range of tourism initiatives such as the Visit Reading website, Welcome

Ambassadors at Reading Station, Meet Reading campaign and the recently published Visitor Guide for Reading, as well as ensuring Reading is represented on a number of national tourism projects such as the Great West Way, St James’ Way and as part of Visit South-East England.

The Economic Impact of Tourism for Reading 2023 report was compiled for REDA by TSE Research using the Cambridge Tourism Economic Impact Model. The model, developed by Geoff Broom Associates and the Regional Tourist Boards of England, produces estimates from existing local and national data sources. It distributes regional activity as measured in national surveys to local areas using ‘drivers’ based on local accommodation stock and occupancy data. Data sources include the Great Britain Day Visits Survey and the Great Britain Tourism Survey. The report relates only to tourism activity within Reading Borough rather than the wider Reading geographic area and therefore the overall value of tourism to the Greater Reading area will be larger than that reported here. 

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