Festive visitors to city on the up

Lancaster Christmas Fayre.
Lancaster Christmas Fayre.

Lancaster is attracting large numbers of UK visitors at Christmas, according to a leading holiday ownership provider.

Diamond Resorts International, which has a base in Caton Road, say that many Brits are bucking the tradition of Christmas at home in favour of a seasonal retreat up north.

Beating traditional festive favourites across the globe, including seasonal sunshine in Spain (8 per cent) and snowy ski retreats (4 per cent), resorts in the Lakes (25 per cent) and Lancaster (13 per cent) are attracting large numbers of British festive holidaymakers.

Lancaster is now in the top four of the holiday firm’s UK destinations in Europe, behind the Lake District, Devon and Norfolk.

The figures will be a welcome result for business owners in Lancaster, with many reporting a fall in year on year sales so far in December.

A recent free parking initiative by Lancaster BID aimed to boost sales in the run up to Christmas, with parking on city council car parks free after 3pm on weekdays.

Jerry North, manager at St Nicholas Arcades in Lancaster, said: “It was great to see a fairly dramatic uplift on Friday’s footfall counts as the publicity for the initiative kicked in, this after the week had been showing decreases year on year up to that point.

“The weekend was then undoubtedly good though only Sunday benefits from the already granted free parking.

“So far so good this week though with a massively important weekend to come.”

BID manager Liz Hickingbotham said: “I am really hopeful that all of our efforts are having the desired effect.

“This weekend has seen a combination of a number of initiatives and events coordinated or funded by the BID: The Charter Market Christmas Fayre on Saturday and Sunday; free parking on Sunday in Market Gate and LCC car parks, and the “free after three” parking.

“Anecdotal feedback from the car parks suggest that they were busier on Thursday and Friday afternoons than earlier in the week and the town had a great atmosphere over the weekend.

“I was in town myself on both Saturday and Sunday and was glad to see shoppers queueing in the shops and at the tills, and carrying lots of shopping bags around town.”

Overall bookings in December for American visitors have also increased by 11 per cent, as tourists ramp up their love affair with traditional England.