Staffordshire’s visitor economy exceeded £1 billion last year, helped by better promotion of the county and a rise in people taking holidays closer to home.

A new report commissioned by tourism body Destination Staffordshire focused on the overall volume of visits in 2009, spending locally and the number of jobs dependent upon tourism.

The Tourism Economic Impact Assessment revealed a significant upward trend in Staffordshire’s own visitor economy with, for the first time, the visitor economy in Staffordshire and Stoke exceeding £1 billion in value to £1,009 million – up 12 per cent on 2008.

The increase was due to a rise in demand for domestic holiday trips during the year as people took holidays closer to home and also to the more effective promotion of Staffordshire as a tourist destination.

Mark Kerrigan, chair of Destination Staffordshire, said: “In times of financial difficulty, it is gratifying to report a significant increase in our visitor economy.

“Our partnership, Destination Staffordshire, is a private/public sector cooperative of attractions and tourism-related businesses founded to develop and drive tourism within the county.

“Recovering economies require local remedies and by forming our powerful partnership, we have achieved our objective of increasing tourism spend and ultimately creating more jobs in Staffordshire.”

The Economic Impact Assessment identified a total of 26,081 jobs in the tourism sector – up 12 per cent on 2008.

Mr Kerrigan added: “We need to maximise the potential for increasing jobs within the tourism sector.

“We have a great wealth of attractions side by side with places of natural and historic significance. “By providing new initiatives and marketing campaigns to promote Staffordshire, we will encourage visitor spend which helps increase employment and ultimately help replace those jobs lost with the decline of our traditional industries.”