The success of events such as the Rugby World Cup and the European Rugby 7s has helped to put the City of Exeter firmly on the map as a leading cultural and sporting destination.
New data has shown Devon’s capital has seen a significant increase in visitor numbers and spend because of such leading events being staged at Sandy Park, the home of the hugely successful Exeter Chiefs.
Data provided by the South West Research Company Ltd for 2015 showed that staying domestic visitors increased by 5% to 423,000 compared to 2014, while spend was up by 12% to £86,302,000 on the previous year.
In welcoming the Rugby World Cup - the third biggest sporting event to the region just over a year ago - the delights of Exeter and the surrounding region were showcased to millions globally, helping to raise the profile of the city both nationally and internationally.
As well as domestic visitors and spent both being on the increase, there was also a 12% rise in overseas visitors to the city to a new figure of 631,000.
Cllr Rosie Denham, Lead Councillor for Economy & Culture, said: “Exeter attracted some major international exposure in 2015 as a result of being a Host City for Rugby World Cup 2015 and the European Rugby 7’s.
“With such major investment into the city’s leisure sector as we’ve seen in the past 12 months and are expecting to see in the near future, we are well placed to promote the city as a strong cultural destination to rival nearby cities of Plymouth, Bristol and Bath.”
As well as sporting events at Sandy Park helping to bring new growth to the area, the city has also attracted major investment, with a £12million pound redevelopment of Exeter’s Guildhall Shopping & Dining opening in 2016, bringing seven new restaurants to the city, including London restaurant Absurd Bird, with their first opening outside the capital.
The future also looks bright with developments including the regeneration of the city’s bus station site to offer an exciting array of new facilities including a cinema, restaurants, cafes and shops.
Also in the pipeline are a green public square and a modern, state-of-the-art leisure and fitness complex known as St Sidwell’s Point, the UK’s first Passivhaus leisure centre.
While the Boat Shed is a new £4million creative space on Exeter’s Quayside in what was previously the city’s maritime museum, to feature a new theatre, live music hall, cafe/bar, bakery and indoor market.