The Covid-19 pandemic devastated Oxfordshire's tourism industry, wiping £1.5bn off the value of the visitor economy, according to new figures.

The county's destination management organisation Experience Oxfordshire has revealed how tourism suffered extensively in 2020, resulting in significant job losses.

The Economic Impact Report for Tourism in Oxfordshire, a report commissioned by the destination management organisation, shows a staggering 59% decline in the value of tourism - from £2.5bn to £1bn - and a substantial decline of 39% in jobs supported by the sector - from 42,000 to 25,000.

Experience Oxfordshire said it was concerned about 'post pandemic recovery' as the pandemic continues to have an effect on visitor numbers.

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Overall, there was a 51% decline in trip volume from 30 million in 2019 to 14.5 million in 2020.

Oxford Mail:

Hayley Beer-Gamage, chief executive of Experience Oxfordshire, said: "We knew the impact of the pandemic on Oxfordshire’s visitor economy would be significant, but these figures show just how severe the impact was in 2020 and this of course continued throughout 2021 and now into 2022.

"The range of support for the sector from government throughout the pandemic has been welcomed but more is needed to ensure that businesses remain viable for the future and the county can prosper again.

"The figures show just how far we have to go to return to pre-pandemic value and volume levels.

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"During summer 2021 there were signs of the beginnings of a recovery, with some attractions and hotels reporting booking increases from the domestic market, evidence of Oxfordshire's continuing desirability as a destination, and we hope to build on this throughout 2022, pending further variants and government restrictions."

Oxford Mail:

According to VisitBritain estimates, tourism spending in Oxfordshire was down by 61% in Oxfordshire in 2020.

Cherwell received the most visits during 2020 (27%) closely followed by Oxford city (24%) with the highest visitor spend continuing to take place in the city at 33% of all spend across the county.

Oxford city was impacted the most severely with a decline in visitor spend of 66% and 51% decline in jobs in the sector.

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In contrast, in 2019 the county had a record year for the visitor economy.

Oxford Mail:

Experience Oxfordshire has dealt with over 10,000 Covid-19 enquiries from businesses in the sector since the start of the pandemic.

Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: "The pandemic continues to affect Oxfordshire and impact our businesses.

"We need to be able to welcome visitors back safely when possible and ensure we are supporting local people by maintaining businesses and jobs."

Oxford Mail:

Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council, said: "The report clearly shows how important tourism is to our city and the loss of over £665m to our local economy with a consequent reduction in jobs is clearly of great concern to us all.

"The council has supported businesses impacted specifically in the visitor economy sector with a range of grants and continues to prioritise those most impacted through our funding. We have worked with Experience Oxfordshire on a range of promotional campaigns such as Rediscover Oxford to encourage visitors back to the city.

"The council had also identified the need to expand hotel accommodation in the city."

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