By Madeleine Horton
Durham visitor satisfaction levels have reached a record high according to the annual Mystery Shopper survey of local Visitor Information centres.
The findings, carried out by Visit County Durham, demonstrate a record level of 91% customer satisfaction among those surveyed, and show a 6% improvement on last year’s results.
The impressive figures have been welcomed in the area by tourism representatives, who have recently launched the new 2018 Durham Pocket Guide.
Michelle Gorman, managing director at Visit County Durham, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with the results of the latest mystery shopper exercise.”
Visitors were said to be impressed with the high level of customer service given by staff, who offered excellent northern hospitality in showing warmness, politeness and an eagerness to help. The standard of information centres was equally high; they were consistently clean, and leaflets and other literature were well-stocked.
Touch-screen kiosks situated around the county were easy to find and to operate for visitors, and had fast internet connections. The overall results showed that information was readily available to those enquiring, and contributed to general satisfaction with visitors during their stays.
This news proves encouraging for the area, which has seen a steady increase in visitor numbers over the last few years. Spending by sightseers presents an economic value of 806 million pounds per year to County Durham.
In 2016, over 19 million tourists came to the county, with an impressive 4.2 million enjoying Durham city alone. Tourists are spending a longer amount of time in the area during their visits, and choosing increasingly to stay overnight, boosting the number of rooms occupied in local accommodation.
The number of recent visitors has coincided with a rise also in the number of residents employed by tourism, which is becoming an increasing important industry within the local economy.
Main tourist attractions include The Beamish Museum, Durham Cathedral, Barnard Castle and natural wonders such as High Force Waterfall and large reservoirs.
Photograph: Another Grumpy Old Man via Flickr