WIRRAL'S tourism industry has seen a multi-million pound boost after a string of high-profile events during 2011.

Events such as the Wirral Food and Drink Festival, the Port Sunlight Food Fayre, the International Guitar Festival, the Wirral Golf Classic and the first ever Mersey Pirate Muster at New Brighton have helped generate £3.5m for the borough’s visitor economy.

Research conducted by Ipsos Mori showed 40% of people questioned said it was their first visit to the borough.

Councillor Chris Meaden, cabinet member for culture, tourism and leisure said: "Tourism is a major driver for Wirral's economy, employing over 4,000 people, and has continued to grow by a substantial 15% over the last five years despite what can only be described as extremely difficult financial conditions.

Research shows that we are attracting new people to Wirral and more of them are spending longer with us as our staying visitor numbers are up by 6% to 26%.

"The image of Wirral as a tourism destination is also improving with 80% of people saying they perceive Wirral to be a better tourism destination than other locations they’ve visited in the last 12 months.

"This is a massive 30% increase on 2006 and is reward for all of the hard work undertaken to market Wirral as a Play, Eat and Stay destination.

"We are continually looking to improve which is why we've made 2012 our Year of Coast and Countryside and we are pleased to see so many of our businesses sign up to help us deliver a fantastic calendar of events that will continue to build on the progress made in the last five years.

"Ninety five per cent of visitors to Wirral are satisfied with their visit which is a fantastic achievement and congratulations must go to all of the businesses and their dedicated staff who deliver consistently excellent customer service to our visitors.

"As we move into the New Year with new attractions like The Light Cinema at New Brighton, I am sure Wirral will continue to deliver an excellent experience to visitors, old and new."
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