Games and rain put tourism in doldrums

Mike Speight at Oxford Castle Unlocked

Mike Speight at Oxford Castle Unlocked Buy this photo

First published in News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by

ONE of the wettest summers on record and the Olympic Games have been blamed for a dramatic decline in tourism in Oxfordshire.

Between May and August this year, the Oxford Visitor Information Centre recorded 150,904 visitors, compared to 263,515 in 2011.

That represents a drop of 43 per cent, which local business and attractions say has had a significant effect on trade.

The fall in tourists became progressively worse as the summer wore on, with a 30 per cent drop on May followed by 31 per cent in June, 51 per cent in July and 47 per cent in August.

The number of people visiting the Oxford Visitor Information Centre in August fell from 83,015 in 2011 to 43,694 this year, and in July was down from 84,300 in 2011 to 41,160 this year.

Visitor numbers in June dropped from 50,800 to 34,550 and in May from 45,400 in 2011 to 31,500 in 2012.

Experience Oxfordshire director Susi Golding said: “The numbers are down on last year, which is a mix of the weather and the Olympics. We just haven’t had the weather and when we have, people were busy watching the Olympics.”

The Met Office said this summer was the wettest for 100 years and the second wettest since records began.

Oxford Castle also attracted a fewer visitors than expected during July and August.

Mike Speight, general manager of Oxford Castle Unlocked, said: “The summer months were a struggle.

“The decrease may have been due to the Olympic Games, poor weather or forecasted weather. Overall we are still up on the year, but in July and August, we were down approximately 15 per cent.”

Traders who depend on visitors to Oxford have also been feeling the pinch. Poorna Kota, manager of East to West, a clothing and textile shop in the Covered Market, said: “Our sales are down by about 30 per cent on last year.”

Mairi Soutter, deputy manager at the Four Pillars Hotel in Sandford-on-Thames, said: “The weather had a big impact on us and people were either at home watching the Olympics or visiting London.

“Business was especially bad over the two week period of the Olympics but it is picking up now and September is looking good for us.”

Rob Atkinson, from the Falcon B&B in Abingdon Road, Oxford, said: “August is a notoriously difficult month anyway. Oxford thrives on the universities and schools, all of which close over the summer.”

It wasn’t all bad news for the city. Jeremy Mogford, owner of the Old Bank and Old Parsonage Hotels said: “Despite a bleak outlook, we were actually substantially up this August on last August, though I’m sure that wasn’t due to the Olympics and I know a lot of fellow hotel owners who did very poorly, especially in London.”

Blenheim Palace said visitors increased from 214,340 last year during June and August to 246,357 this year.

Marketing manager Hannah Payne said: “The profile of our visitors has changed. We have had less overseas visitors and group bookings as they are avoiding the UK this year.”

But she added: “What we will be seeing is a big swell in numbers in 2014 and 2015 because the Olympics has been a great advert.”

Comments (3)

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1:42pm Mon 10 Sep 12

ox-cabby says...

Ok..........and???

PS., why is this 'news' so important
Ok..........and??? PS., why is this 'news' so important ox-cabby
  • Score: -15

3:29pm Mon 10 Sep 12

sparky123456 says...

maybe the weather and the olympics aren't to blame. Perhaps finally people are wising up to what a s***hole oxford is. With its overpriced parking, it's crowded buses, its lack of designer/upper class shopping experience, it's lack of trendy bars and restaurants. Terrible congestion, awful road networks. Cramped pavements, constant numbers of beggars and chuggars stopping you every 5 seconds. Being ripped off at every opportunity for everything. Not having any city centre family leisure attractions EG no bowling, no amusements, no modern cinema complex, no large scale art gallery/museum. no city centre leisure pool, no aquarium, no budget city centre hotels.

And don't forget, what does the visitor information centre numbers prove anyway. people can you use the internet to plan a trip these days!
maybe the weather and the olympics aren't to blame. Perhaps finally people are wising up to what a s***hole oxford is. With its overpriced parking, it's crowded buses, its lack of designer/upper class shopping experience, it's lack of trendy bars and restaurants. Terrible congestion, awful road networks. Cramped pavements, constant numbers of beggars and chuggars stopping you every 5 seconds. Being ripped off at every opportunity for everything. Not having any city centre family leisure attractions EG no bowling, no amusements, no modern cinema complex, no large scale art gallery/museum. no city centre leisure pool, no aquarium, no budget city centre hotels. And don't forget, what does the visitor information centre numbers prove anyway. people can you use the internet to plan a trip these days! sparky123456
  • Score: 15

5:08pm Mon 10 Sep 12

ger elttil OX2 0EJ says...

Sparks. I am sure that you remember reading here over the past few years, how The Olympics will be a massive boost to Oxford, with various Teams and tourists from all over the world flocking to our "world Class City", the teams would use us as a training camp, and we would be over run with visitors. Well, firstly, we have nothing to offer an Olympic team staying here, no first class facilities at all, (that is why NO major sporting events are held in Oxford, Except the World Aunt Sally, and POO Sticks tournaments) and like you say, for tourists we have sub standard hotels charging Dorchester Hotel prices, a choice of McD style chains to eat in at exhorbitant prices, a lock down at the time that most families want to go out and eat at, and nowhere for them to go afterwards. I am sorry, but Oxford has lived on it's name for far too long, and people have now sussed it out. Why come to Oxford and be ripped off with inferior lodgings, food, and service, just because there are a few relatively old buildings. Tourists come for the day, do not spend even a penny and go back to your friendly city where you are staying. Our leaders need to be brought into the real world before they will act and make Oxford a place that is even a hlaf decent place for us to live in.
Sparks. I am sure that you remember reading here over the past few years, how The Olympics will be a massive boost to Oxford, with various Teams and tourists from all over the world flocking to our "world Class City", the teams would use us as a training camp, and we would be over run with visitors. Well, firstly, we have nothing to offer an Olympic team staying here, no first class facilities at all, (that is why NO major sporting events are held in Oxford, Except the World Aunt Sally, and POO Sticks tournaments) and like you say, for tourists we have sub standard hotels charging Dorchester Hotel prices, a choice of McD style chains to eat in at exhorbitant prices, a lock down at the time that most families want to go out and eat at, and nowhere for them to go afterwards. I am sorry, but Oxford has lived on it's name for far too long, and people have now sussed it out. Why come to Oxford and be ripped off with inferior lodgings, food, and service, just because there are a few relatively old buildings. Tourists come for the day, do not spend even a penny and go back to your friendly city where you are staying. Our leaders need to be brought into the real world before they will act and make Oxford a place that is even a hlaf decent place for us to live in. ger elttil OX2 0EJ
  • Score: -69

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