RECORD levels of visitors are pouring into York.

The number of people focusing on the home of the Minster, the National Railway Museum and Shambles as a place to spend time has topped seven million in the space of a year, according to research carried out by York’s marketing bosses.

The annual tourism figures have been hailed by Visit York and Welcome To Yorkshire as the best they have ever seen, with 56 per cent of the 7.1 million who visited during 2008 – the latest year for which figures are available – being Yorkshire-based and the majority either enjoying a leisure trip, attending an event or visiting friends or relatives.

As previously revealed by The Press, tourism brought £442.6 million into York’s coffers during this year, with £126.8 million coming from tourists making the city their base for a break, £112.9 million by those paying a day visit and £202.9 million through business tourism.

Overseas visitors provided a third of the overall income – £42.4 million – while £45.4 million was spent on accommodation and £32.1.million on food and drink. The survey also showed 800,000 of York’s seven million-plus visitors stayed overnight and 300,000 came from abroad, while the city also outstrips the rest of Yorkshire when it comes to drawing in tourists from other countries.

“By taking into account not just leisure visits but also the value of business tourism, visits to events and visit to friends and relatives, the true value of tourism to the York economy has been revealed like never before,” said Visit York chief executive Gilliam Cruddas.

“It’s fantastic news and demonstrates the importance of tourism for the York economy. This survey offers us an in-depth analysis into where visitors are coming from and how they spend their money, which will enable Visit York and Welcome to Yorkshire to market the city even more effectively in the year ahead.”

The study, carried out by Tribal Consulting, also assessed how many visitors to the city would recommend it to a friend, with 99 per cent saying they would give it such an endorsement. The figures for 2009 will be unveiled in August.