Strategies & Plans

Investing in Durham's Visitor Economy

Durham’s visitor economy exceeded £1billion annually for the first time in 2022 and we will be announcing our 2023 figures shortly. In 2022, we welcomed 17.91million visitors spending £1.04billion in places to stay, visit, eat, and drink. This sustains 11,724 local jobs and sustains directly and indirectly hundreds of Durham businesses

Durham’s headline attractors continue to invest heavily in expanding, upgrading and developing their attractions. More than £350m has been invested attractions and the visitor economy infrastructure.

How can we help investors?

Visit County Durham provides an intelligence-based critical friend investment support to those wishing to invest in the county’s tourism product. Whether you're an expanding visitor attraction or accommodation provider or new to the area and considering investing in the county's visitor economy, we can help.

We can provide investors with a wealth of robust economic, market and visitor intelligence. We invest heavily in our evidence bases, so investors can be confident in the nature and strengths of Durham’s visitor economy.

We have been supporting investors of all types and sizes since 2006. We have established a close working relationship with Durham County Council’s planning team. As well as shaping and informing visitor economy planning policy, we can support investor through the planning process.

The earlier we can support investors the better. We can assist in investors in the pre-planning scoping stage and Visit County Durham is a formal consultee for all visitor economy related planning applications. Visit County Durham can also offer post development support in terms of marketing platforms and networking and you can find these in the ‘Partnership’ section of this website.

Through the support we offer, we would like investors to be in a stronger position to progress projects which are more customer and market focused, more viable and sustainable and which fit strategically with county and regional plans.

We have a plan. The Durham Destination Development Plan is based on our evidence research and guidance from our partners. Its sets out the destination’s priorities and identifies the destination’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It sets out a clear plan of action for us, our partners and investors on how we can fulfil the huge economic and business potential of Durham as a destination.

The new Durham Destination Management Plan for 2024-2030 will be signed off shortly and uploaded on to this website.

Future development of visitor accommodation

Hotels Solutions were commissioned by Visit County Durham and Durham County Council to provide a robust, evidence-based assessment of the potential for the future development of visitor accommodation. 

The executive summaries below provide an insight into the findings of these reports.  

Bishop Auckland Hotel Development Study Executive Summary
Durham City Hotel Development Study Executive Summary
Seaham Hotel Development Study Executive Summary
Wider County Hotel Development Study Executive Summary

Bed & Breakfast
Bed & Breakfast Review Executive Summary

Glamping Development Executive Summary

Download: Glamping Toolkit

Pub Accommodation
Pub Accommodation Development Executive Summary 

Download: Pub Accommodation Toolkit

Accommodation Development Workshop

Bishop Auckland is continuing to evolve as a visitor destination and there are plenty of exiting opportunities from accommodation development.  To find out more download the presentations from a recent accommodation development workshop which highlights all the opportunities and how to get involved.

Accommodation Development Workshop Presentations

For more information please contact 

Tourism Development 

If you are considering expanding an existing facility or developing a new facility for the visitor economy, we would recommend discussing your proposals with our Planning Development Service, who are keen wherever possible to support the growth of our visitor economy. In addition guidance in this area can be found on the Visit Britain website.

Or contact:

Stephen Reed
Development Manager
Planning Development
Regeneration and Local Services
Durham County Council
County Hall

03000 263 870