Stephanie Cherrett and Anna Roche use rocks to spell www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk on the beach

Record summer and impressive start to autumn for South Devon tourism

Latest figures released from Visit South Devon reveal that summer 2015 has been one of the best on record, despite August’s variable weather.  Visitors to its website www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk hit an all time high in August, up 25% on the same period last year, while total visitors for the year to date have risen by an impressive 21%.  Figures for the month of September also show a significant rise on last year, up 18%.
Much of the growth in traffic has been attributed to the Hollywood halo following national and international coverage surrounding James Marsh’s filming of the true story of Donald Crowhurst, featuring Colin Firth.  Teignmouth, which was the central focus for many of its scenes, has since become the most frequently viewed town on Visit South Devon’s site followed by Kingsbridge and Salcombe.
Commenting on the successful season so far, Stephanie Cherrett, General Manager for Visit South Devon, said: “2015 has been a bumper season for tourism in the South Devon area.  We have seen dramatic increases in searches for
accommodation, attractions and events across the board.
“The good weather in July certainly helped to encourage bookings during the peak summer holiday weeks and the attention that the Firth factor has brought to Teignmouth and the rest of South Devon has certainly added to the number of searches that we have seen.  The great news is that this could be a drop in the ocean compared to the impact that the film could have for our region on its general release, which is yet to be announced.”
Cherrett added: “The website lies at the heart of all our marketing activity, which includes email marketing, competitions, our brochure, social media, event promotion and PR activity. By capturing the imagination of potential and return visitors, and by generating genuine excitement about places to visit and stay in South Devon, we have not only increased traffic to the website, but we’ve also driven record levels of direct bookings for our members.”
Visit South Devon’s analysis of its website reveals that visitors are increasingly using tablets and mobile devices to search for things to do while they are on holiday in South Devon.  In August alone searches via these devices made up over 60% of all hits to the Visit South Devon website.
This, according to Stephanie Cherrett, demonstrates exactly why tourism attractions benefit from joining Visit South Devon: “Our research shows that during poorer weather periods searches for indoor activities spike as people look for things to do.  In August searches for indoor activities were up 112% on July demonstrating clearly that visitors who don’t know the area well turn to Visit South Devon’s website as their first port of call.”
Among the businesses that have had a successful season are Keith Kernan and Lance Richard of Hylands Holiday Apartments in Teignmouth, who commented: “2015 has been our best year for bookings by far.  We’ve had a lot of the business from Visit South Devon’s website and the tourist board has been a huge help to us.  We’ve already signed up for 2016 and we’re looking forward to another good year.”
Chris Murray, owner of Pennywell Farm commented: “Summer 2015 has been a golden season for us.  Pennywell enjoyed double figure increases in July and despite a wet August saw visitor numbers rise on last year.  Added to the Indian summer that we’ve all experienced, we can safely say it has been a superb end to a wonderful season.”
He added: “Visit South Devon has certainly helped attract a great deal of interest both from the home market and from growing numbers of foreign visitors.  Our picture banner campaign has been a particular success driving visitors from www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk through to our site, resulting in increased ticket sales in the quieter months. The images of our world famous Pennywell Miniature Pigs have certainly drawn great interest; one Australian family en route to America even took a Devon detour to Pennywell!”
Visit South Devon is funded through money raised from adverts taken on the site by tourist attractions, activity based businesses, accommodation providers, and providers of hospitality.  The site, which appears as the top search result for places to visit, things to do and places to stay in South Devon, provides a cheap and affordable portal through which visitors can book B&B, hotel, guesthouse and self catering accommodation.  It also provides comprehensive information on destinations to explore as well as places to dine, eat and drink, enabling visitors to build up an itinerary of things to do while on holiday in South Devon. In 2014 the www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk had more than 670,000 visits to its site.
For more information on Visit South Devon visit www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk
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