Sherwood Forest Visitors Centre took more than £130,000 in catering, retail sales and car parking alone last year during Nottinghamshire County Council’s annual Robin Hood Festival.
But with more than half of its 70,000 visitors coming from outside of the area and overseas, the Festival’s impact on the local economy has much wider-reaching benefits with overnight visitors spending in excess of £200 per stay, according to the local authority.
The 27th Robin Hood Festival will take place from Wednesday 10 – Sunday 14 August this year rather than the traditional first week of August.
The Festival’s Visitor Survey Report for 2009 (2010’s is currently being collated) shows that around one third (32%) of all visitors who travelled to the UK’s biggest celebration of Robin Hood that year, came from beyond the host county, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire or South Yorkshire.
Cabinet member for culture and community Coun John Cottee said: “ Sherwood Forest is a top three visitor attraction in the East Midlands and was just pipped to a place in the top 10 of most-visited country parks in England1, so the area with its strong associations with the legendary outlaw has great pulling power for tourism anyway.
“But the fact that a third of visitors to the Festival were tourists staying overnight in the area means that their spending on accommodation, food and drink, recreation, shopping and travel plays a strong part in helping support the county’s £1.4 billion tourism industry with its 20,000 plus jobs.
“As well as changing the dates of the Festival this year, visitors should also be aware that for 2011, it will run for five days rather than a full week as part of the budget savings we’ve had to make across all service areas of the Council. And as a result, this is likely to have some effect on the income it generates this year and visitor numbers.”
46% of those coming to the Festival were first-time visitors
77% of visited with children
85% came by car
68% made the trip just for the Festival alone.
“Nearly 70% of visitors came to the area just for the Festival. We’ve got whole families who come back year after year – some who first visited as youngsters and now bring along their own children and those who love it so much that they now perform at the Festival,” added Counc Cottee.
“For us as the organisers, it’s about providing an event at a time of year when local people and visitors are looking for low cost, fun entertainment that appeals to all age groups, but especially families with young children. In a recession, people need good value days out and this one certainly delivers great fun for minimal cost.”
Experience Nottinghamshire marketing officer Dale Twigger said: “Word has spread as far as Eastern Europe too - this year we’ve got a group of 40 Russian Robin Hood fans, based just outside of Moscow, making a 10 day trip to celebrate their hero. This is testament to the international appeal of the Festival.
“It’s estimated that in general, an overnight visitor spends over £200 in the county during their trip, whilst a day visitor spends just under £30, and with the large visitor figures that the Festival draws, it has a significant impact into the local economy.”
Admission to the Festival is free, with car parking at £5 a day. A small charge is made for some events such as outdoor theatre performances (50p per child, £1 per adult) and ‘have-a-go’ archery (£3).
If you’re travelling by car, head to Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, just north of Edwinstowe. Visitors are advised to check the Festival website for directions because of a nearby road closure: www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/robinhood.
Edwinstowe is well-served by buses and you can find details of how to plan your journey by visiting www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/timetable-f.htm
The full programme of activities has yet to be confirmed, but to find out the latest information and watch a short film, visit: www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/robinhood