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York traders celebrate a bumper summer
THE sun has shone on York to give the city a bumper summer, with many businesses reporting their best ever trade.
Records were broken for soaring temperatures and attractions across the city have set new highs for visitor numbers.
As the school summer holidays come to an end this weekend, new figures show overall visitor numbers rocketed in July to 400,000 – 50 per cent higher than the same month in 2012. Good weather and the Mallard celebrations at the National Railway Museum helped contribute to the city’s summer boom.
Gillian Cruddas, pictured, chief executive of Visit York, said: ‘We have seen a very vibrant atmosphere in York this summer, undoubtedly boosted by the fine weather and we are hearing good news stories from tourism businesses across the city to indicate a strong and successful season.“Our information centre has been exceptionally busy, and in July alone, sales of the York Pass saw a 50 per cent increase on last year.”
With figures for August still being collated, the hotel industry saw a busy July with a record-breaking occupancy rate for the month of 89.9 per cent, up five per cent on the previous year. Room rates also grew by three per cent, up to an average of £81.83.
Lionel Chatard, chairman of York Hotelliers Association, said: “The weather has helped a lot so it has been a strong year for us and a good signal for the future that the economy is kicking back and starting to improve.
“We are all very pleased with the summer season. It has been good because of the variety of events going on, with the Mallard arriving, the Richard III exhibition and a variety of festivals and showcases.
“It is great when the whole city works together on a series of events for the benefit of everyone. York has done very well.”
Outdoor attractions fared particularly well, with YorkTour sightseeing walks and York Boat experiencing a busy few months, and York Maze, in Elvington Lane, enjoying its best-ever summer.
Owner Tom Pearcy said: “It has been a great summer for York Maze, especially as the previous two years were so wet and rainy.
“We don’t have the figures yet but there is no doubt it has been the busiest season we have ever had at the maze. We close on Monday after only a short season of seven weeks so having a good summer is crucial for us.”
The sunny spells coupled with a regional Tour de France fever, saw the number of cyclists increase.
Jim McGurn, chief executive of Get Cycling in Fulford, said: “We have been much more busy than previous years. The sunny weather has meant more and more people are hiring bikes.”
John Lowry, operations manager at York Wheel said: “It has been a good summer for us. We really benefit from people coming in and staying in nearby hotels, so it’s been very successful.
“We’ve got four weeks left now and hope to see a continuing flow of visitors.”
Chairman of York Retail Forum Frank Wood said response from retailers had been mixed but generally the season has been up, providing an optimistic outlook for Christmas.
The National Railway Museum said it received 136,976 visits during the school holidays, and visitor numbers so far this financial year were 30 per cent up on last year.
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