A HUGE rise in the number of international visitors coming to Bradford has been hailed as a "remarkable achievement" by tourism bosses.
The 'Tour de France effect' is thought to lie behind a 16 per cent rise in the number of people flocking to the district from all corners of the globe, with international tourism now worth an estimated £30 million to the local economy.
And Yorkshire's tourism chief says while the Grand Depart may have captured the world's attention this year, the district's top-class attractions like the Bronte Parsonage and the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway should keep visitors coming back time and time again.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Bringing the world’s largest free sporting event to Yorkshire has already had a huge impact on the county – quite simply, our profile has never been higher.
"For Bradford to have a 16 per cent boost in international visitor numbers in 2013 is a remarkable achievement.
"While the Grand Depart has attracted attention, it is the world-class attractions and hospitality that make visitors stay longer and keep coming back - places like the National Media Museum, City Park, the Alhambra, Bronte Country, Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and many more really play a part in this.
“The Tour is estimated to inject £100 million into Yorkshire’s economy. Its value for business is immense."
International tourism brought £30 million into Bradford's economy alone in 2013, national tourism agency VisitBritain has revealed.
There were 82,000 visits to the Bradford district from overseas in 2013, up from 71,000 in 2012. In 2013 the Yorkshire region as a whole welcomed 1.2 million visits from overseas - an increase of 11.7 per cent on the previous year, which almost brings it back to 2008’s pre-recession record.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, who oversees tourism for Bradford Council, welcomed the figures.
She said: "It is good news for the district, I am pleased to hear that. It shows that tourism is really valuable to the local economy."
Cllr Hinchcliffe said many cyclists were already visiting Yorkshire to try out the route for themselves, and said she expected tourism in the district to get an even bigger boost once the Tour arrived.
She said: "We are about to get millions of people visiting the district. Three-and-a-half billion people will be watching it on television.
"It is a major sporting event coming to our district not just once but twice, on consecutive days, and it is hopefully going to give an even bigger boost to the district than these figures today show."
VisitBritain is today [MON] unveiling a new digital poster campaign in Heathrow airport, promoting Yorkshire's countryside and architecture to its international passengers.
Joss Croft, marketing director of VisitBritain said: “This is Yorkshire’s time to shine. Building on the record spend figures across the region, we want to enhance the tourism opportunities surrounding the Grand Depart and inspire our international visitors to explore Britain as they pass through Heathrow airport.
“Our partnership with Heathrow will continue our promotional activity to ensure that the economic growth from tourism and the jobs that the industry delivers are spread right across the country.”
Mr Verity said there was now a real buzz about Yorkshire.
He said: "Word is spreading, people want to know about Yorkshire. We are seeing this at Welcome to Yorkshire where the team has been hosting at least one international press trip each week since Christmas as the media want to tell their viewers and their readers about the county.
"We think that once the thousands of international journalists and spectators have stayed here, they will fall in love with the beauty of Yorkshire and come back again and again.”