Tourism and its impact on Cornwall’s Economy

To most people, they see the benefits of tourism. It contributes to a large part of Cornwall’s economy, as without it, things would be dire indeed. But just what is the impact with or without tourism; how much money does tourism help contribute to the Cornish economy?

On the job front, the tourism industry employs 25% of all employment in Cornwall. That is 60,921 jobs; which is made up of 45,017 FTE jobs and 15,904 non-FTE jobs. In comparison with our closest neighbours, the FTE jobs are: Devon 12% – 46,4532; Dorset 12% – 29,800 and Somerset 9% – 23,444.

This data is further broken down by the former District Council as:

  • Kerrier – FTE  jobs: 4,294 – actual 5,891 – 15% of all employment
  • Caradon – FTE jobs: 4,833 – actual 6,827 -20% of all employment
  • Carrick – FTE jobs: 5,426 – actual 7,433 – 14% of all employment
  • North Cornwall – FTE jobs: 7,782 – actual 10,917 – 29% of all employment
  • Penwith – FTE jobs – 5,898 – actual 8,133 – 31% of all employment
  • Restormel – FTE jobs 8,674 – actual 11,951 – 23% of all employment

With what is the actual amount of money that is put into the Cornish economy? Well it is not a small amount; as the total amount is £1,855,422,000.

This is made up from domestic £1,212,999,000 and overseas £129,990,000 on accommodation type; day trips – £468,336,000; friends and relatives – £35,724,000 and second home/holiday accommodation £8,373,000. This makes the £1.8 billion.

This spend can be broken down further by the amount spent by purpose: holiday tourist is £1,126,447,000; business £34,809,000 and visits to friends and families £43,500,000. For Overseas it is: holiday £90,145,000; business £19,863,000 and visits to friends and family £10,553,000.

Second homes and boats make a contribution, too. For boats it is £4,934,000 and second homes, it is £4,439,000. The spend on second homes includes maintenance, and replacement of furniture and fixtures. For boats, it covers berthing charging, servicing and maintenance.

For the South West region as a whole, the spend is:

  • Accommodation – £1,646,962,000 (18%)
  • Shopping – £2,339,775,000 (26%)
  • Food and Drink – £2,847,358,000 (31%)
  • Attractions £984,184,000 (11%)
  • Travel – £1,284,980,000 (14%)

This makes a total of £9,103,257,000. That is a huge amount of money from tourism.

However, there is a danger with Cornwall and the South West relying too much on tourism. As if there is a massive change, from either domestic and overseas competition, or the poor weather that has inflicted itself on us for the past few years. As a shift in people visiting would leave a very big hole in the Cornish and regions economy.

So what is the answer? More industry? If so, how do we as a county attract industrial businesses down? As from my experience sitting on Strategic Planning we receive few of this application type. It is either housing developments, supermarkets or renewable energy type applications. Not many jobs from renewable energy is there?

Furthermore, there has been this chicken and egg scenario of do you build houses to attract the business, or business first than housing? A balance of both would be right, but that is not happening. It has been made worse by recent changes to planning policy and the reliance on having to have a Local Plan. As without one, developers are using this against the council by submitting plans and claiming lack of Local Plan and/or no five-year land supply.

It is going to be interesting to see what 2013 brings

Tourism data has been taken from Visit Cornwall’s report – Value of Tourism 2011


  • Garin Linnington

    As ever, the value of ‘tourism’ whatever that is actually defined as is way overstated to Cornwall. Just because one works in the shopping, food & drink, travel or other services sectors, does not mean that is ‘tourism’. Are you saying when I buy a pasty in Barnecutts, that is tourism, or that when I buy a pint and meal in the Borough Arms, that is tourism, or if I visit the Eden Project that is tourism? Rubbish, it is services sector, not tourism. To get to the real value of tourism, one would have to look solely at the number of annual visitors from ‘upcountry’ multiplied by the average £ spend and what actual employment that supports. It is a lie, tourism does not employ 60,000 full time jobs or 25% of all employees, it is much less. Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie! As ever, misquoted data, misused. To cite Visit Cornwall’s – ‘value of tourism 2011’, is very biased, of course the report will inflate the value of tourism, it is a biased, tourism funded document. Using other sources of data from Cornwall Council e.g., to the ONS, the figures are much, much less. Often broad employment sectors are claimed to be wholly tourism, further biasing the value of tourism, e.g. accommodation & food services (33,800) and arts, entertainment, recreation etc (13,700) from CC data, yet they are certainly not all tourism. One ONS report I read reckoned that tourism in terms of GVA is roughly on a par with manufacturing. Let’s be honest, I live in north Cornwall (Bodmin), work across the whole Duchy, my roots are in the SW, I’ve seen the misery of the SW economy first hand and how little tourism contributes to Cornwall’s wellbeing. There is no way that 29% of folk in North Cornwall work in tourism, certainly not in January. Why don’t the other industry/employment sectors start claiming they are the main source of the economy and employment in Cornwall? I’m a university educated, manager in industry, worked in all countries of the British Isles, and Cornwall is one of the poorest parts, but tourism the main employer, give me a break! I base my opinions on both experience and data/facts. Something the tourism brigade down here don’t do, they live in la la land inventing wildly over stated claims on how important tourism is to Cornwall and its people. About as much truth of tourism being Cornwall’s main employment sector as the Catholic church of old, claiming the earth was flat, lie lie lie, yet dare any informed, educated ‘heretic’ claim other wise lest he be spurned. Despite the fact Cornwall is the poorest part of the UK! Why is that ask yourself? If tourism is so dandy, surely it should be much wealthier? Look at it this way, with less tourism in Cornwall, the average GDP/GVA per capita would be higher, sure less people would work here (who wouldn’t have moved here to work for low, part time wages in tourism), but the average income would be higher. Devon has (according to the report cited here) only 12% of its employment in ‘tourism’ yet it is wealthier, Somerset less tourism and even wealthier, get the connection? Less tourism = wealthier. Lets start blowing our trumpets about the rest of the Cornish economy, long overdue. If Cornall keeps pushing tourism, it will always be the poorest part of the UK, if not Europe, very very sad. So Mr Wallis, if you care about ‘the young people’ start looking at why so many Cornish young people leave and what kind of economy would actually make Cornwall a better place for people working here. Tourism making Cornwall a better place, yeah pull the other one, mazed as sheep for believing it. Signed the ‘heretic’.

  • Not to mention the balancing act of cost of tourism to all other industries including how much tax payers fund low income tourism jobs Garin, or how much of a cost impact it has on our health services, rescue services etc and how it inflates food costs, water bills, house values making it impossible for our young to afford to live here

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