August 28, 2019 @ 14:32 by Richard Dawson
Sunderland drew in over nine million tourists in 2018, bringing almost £500 million into the city’s economy, according to new data.
With a slew of events and activities held in Sunderland last year, visitor numbers increased by 4.7 per cent compared to 2017.
Spending was up by 6.5 per cent to £474.83 million, helping to support 5711 jobs in the city, an increase of 7.6 per cent from the year before.
Some of the events that helped draw these crowds included the Tall Ships Races, the 30th anniversary Sunderland International Airshow, the illuminations, the BP Portrait Awards, and shows like Wicked and Miss Saigon at the Empire Theatre.
Sunderland Council received that data from Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Model (STEAM), which measures tourism across the country by looking at attraction and event attendance figures, visiting football fans attending SAFC home matches, retail spending, and hotel occupancy.
These latest figures are the highest recorded since the council started using the model in 2009.
The leader of Sunderland City Council, councillor Graeme Miller said: “I am delighted to see the continued growth in tourism figures for Sunderland.
“It is also encouraging that as the number of people visiting our city increases, the economic impact of their visits also continues to rise.
“This all helps to confirm that tourism is a consistently growing sector and a crucial part of our economy.
“These figures demonstrate how our wide variety of visitor attractions — including our fantastic seafront and award-winning parks, historic buildings, museums, theatres and world class events — can bring positive cultural and economic change to our region.
“We continue to develop our events programme every year and there are a number of other exciting developments in the city which will continue to attract new visitors.”