A record 2.25 million visitors flocked to the Cambridge area for a day out at key attractions last year, it has been revealed.
Thirteen local attractions have banded together in a consortium to market themselves to tourists, and they achieved the enormous total between them in 2011.
The Great Days Out Around Cambridge consortium includes the Botanic Garden, the Folk Museum, Kettle’s Yard and the Fitzwilliam Museum.
Other members are Wicken Fen, Audley End, Anglesey Abbey and Wimpole Hall, as well as the Imperial War Museum Duxford, Ely Cathedral, Shepreth Wildlife Park, the Newmarket Experience – which tells the story of horseracing – and the Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green in Hertfordshire, dedicated to the great sculptor’s work.
News of the tourism boost came just days after a report showed museums like those run by Cambridge University were helping to buoy up the region’s economy.
Juliet Day, development officer at the Botanic Garden, who currently chairs the consortium, said: “The garden itself achieved well in excess of 200,000 visitors.
“The simple idea behind Great Days Out is that collectively we can reach the parts that attractions, as individuals, cannot, by pooling our financial and creative resources.
“Each year, we put together a beautiful compendium promotional leaflet that is distributed across the eastern region and we run a website, but perhaps more importantly we all know that encouraging excellent ‘word of mouth’ recommendation is still the most effective marketing tool.
“We also share a lot of ideas, initiatives and best practice. This chimes with our outreach missions, and also makes a significant contribution to keeping the local economy buoyant and active, especially in the current climate.”
The Fitzwilliam saw visitor numbers increase by 50,000 thanks to its much-praised Vermeer exhibition, and Kettle’s Yard, which achieved “runaway success” with an exhibition of Bridget Riley’s work.
Sarah Matthews, from the Stained Glass Museum at Ely Cathedral, where visitor numbers also rose, said: “We’re hoping the increase in visiting attractions closer to home, the so-called ‘staycation’, will continue in 2012.”