A TOTAL of at least £1billion has been brought into Gwent through tourism in the last two years, figures show.
Figures provided by the five Gwent authorities show that in 2012 and 2013 more than £800m was brought in through tourism with figures for 2013 from Newport, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen still ongoing.
The news of the boost was welcomed across Gwent with many saying the figures were "encouraging" and something to work to improve on.
The figures show Newport received 2.367 million visitors in 2012 with tourism bringing in £207.11million, a rise on 2011. Figures for 2013 are still ongoing.
Newport's cabinet member for regeneration and development, Cllr John Richards said: “I am pleased to see that tourism figures rose between 2011 and 2012. It is great that more people are discovering what we have to offer in our city from the Transporter Bridge to Tredegar House, the Wetlands to Caerleon. I hope many more people discover what our city has to offer.”
Newport's cabinet member for leisure and culture, Cllr Debbie Wilcox said the Newport Food Festival was one of many events helping to bring people into the city after attracting more than 15,000 visitors last year.
She said: “Newport City Council is continually working on giving people more reasons to visit the city including the annual food festival, Christmas festive food market as well as the Big Splash which takes place next month and kicks off the festival season. We look forward to welcoming people to the range and variety of activities and events on offer come rain or shine."
David Hando, chairman of the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge, was also delighted with the figures.
“It certainly is a good result,” he said. “Let’s hope we can improve on that.
“There is so much to see in and around Newport with the Transporter Bridge, the Ship, Fourteen Locks, Tredegar House and the Celtic Manor.
“It is all very encouraging.
“I just hope the people of Newport appreciate what they have got.”
Monmouthshire council said that the value of tourism to Monmouthshire currently stands at £165m which is a one per cent increase on 2012.
This was generated by 2,052,500 visitors, which is a two percent increase on 2012 according to Monmouthshire’s 2013 STEAM report. (Scarborough/Scottish Tourism Economic Activity Monitor)
A council spokesman said that the rise in visitor numbers is down to an increase in day visitors, with more people coming for less time and spending less.
Popular attractions in Monmouthshire include Raglan, Caldicot and Chepstow Castles as well as Tintern Abbey and Llanthony Priory while the Abergavenny Food Festival also attracts tens of thousands of people each year.
Scott Crichton, board director of Abergavenny food festival, said: “I think the fact that we were awarded the best event in the whole of Wales at the national tourism awards 2013 was a positive reaction and a great accolade to ourselves.
“I would say that these figures are particularly good so we are very pleased, although we always try to improve."
He added: “This year we have a new team and are trying to make this year’s festival better than ever.”
Ann Rainsbury, of Chepstow Museum, said she was delighted with the figures.
“It is really heartening to see that the figures reflect how we feel, and it is a great to be a part of it.”
Meanwhile Caerphilly saw a three per cent rise in revenue from 2012 to 2013 with £101m brought into the borough in 2012 and £104 million in 2013.
A spokesman for Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: "Statistically these figures are very encouraging, and they confirm that the county borough's town centres and attractions pull in visitor spend. A three percent rise in revenue over the course of a year, particular during a time of economic uncertainty, is certainly a real positive."
Popular attractions in Caerphilly include Cwmcarn Forest Drive.
In Torfaen, in 2012, tourism brought £57.21 million into the local economy, with 938,300 visitors spending 1,181,000 days in the borough.
Councillor Lewis Jones, deputy leader of Torfaen council, said: “These are really positive figures. Torfaen has a huge amount to offer tourists, and visitors are often surprised to find out just how much there is to see and do across the county.”
Ceri Thompson, curator of one of Torfaen's most popular attractions - the Big Pit said: “This is a wonderful result.
“It is good to know that the mining valleys can still attract visitors.”
Tourism also continues to rise in Blaenau Gwent and contributed over £36 million to the local economy in 2012.
Blaenau Gwent now welcomes 630,400 visitors annually and these figures show a 13 per cent rise in those who stay overnight.
Councillor Anita Hobbs, executive member for active living said: “Tourism is an important driver of the economy and its contribution in areas like Blaenau Gwent cannot not be underestimated.
“Tourism is valuable to local businesses and we will continue to work with all partners to maximise this benefit”
Don Bearcroft, curator at Abertillery and District Museum in Blaenau Gwent, said:“I am pleased with that.
“We have quite a few tourists who come to us from abroad-places such as Canada and Australia.
“We are a voluntary museum so I think it is good for us to have tourists."
He added:“We could do with more tourism though as they bring the money in.”
Area Tourism income 2012 (£) Tourism income 2013 (£)
Newport £207.11m ongoing
Monmouthshire £163.4m £165m
Caerphilly £101 m £104 m
Torfaen £57.21 m ongoing
Blaenau Gwent £36m ongoing