THE first celebration of tourism across Oxfordshire is to be held in a bid to boost the county’s economy.

Visit Oxfordshire has organised its first ever ‘Big Day Out’ next month.

It will give hundreds of people the opportunity to visit some of Oxfordshire’s well-known attractions free of charge.

Hundreds of free tickets will be available via a draw on the Visit Oxfordshire website.

The event on Sunday, March 17 is timed to coincide with English Tourism Week.

Oxford attracts nine million visitors each year, bringing £1.7bn to the county, more than 10 per cent of its economy.

So far 18 tours and attractions have offered free tickets, including Blenheim Palace, Sulgrave Manor and Christ Church.

Waterperry Garden, the Oxford Botanic Garden, Didcot Railway Centre, Oxford Castle Unlocked, and the Ashmolean Museum are also involved.

Jo Butler, head of tourism and marketing at Visit Oxfordshire, said: “We would like to encourage our local residents to visit some of the wonderful attractions, stately homes, museums and other places of interest in this rich and diverse county.”

Blenheim Palace spokesman Hannah Payne said: “We are hoping to really push tourism in Oxfordshire this year.

“On the Big Day Out weekend we have an exhibition about all of the filming which has taken place at the palace over the years, and Inspector Morse’s Jaguar will be on display.”

The free-ticket draw closes on Wednesday, February 27.

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