Cambridge struggles with dramatic increase in tourist numbers

Image credit: Kate Jewell

Walking down King's Parade when it is thronged with visitors is a common gripe among Cambridge students, but new figures show that the rise of the University's popularity among tourists is even higher than expected. From 2013 to 2016, the number of tourists visiting the city rose from 5.4 million a year to 7.6 million a year. This rise of 2 million follows concerns that an influx of tourists could pose significant challenges to the centre of the city.

The Cambridge News reported on the figures released by Visit Cambridge and Beyond, comparing Cambridge's 7.6 million visitors to sunnier Malta's 2 million. The News spoke to John Hopkin, who sits on Cambridge City Council and said:
"These numbers speak for themselves. Short-stay tourism numbers are on a trajectory that threatens to overwhelm the city within a very few years."
“This is a matter of the utmost urgency and trotting out official statements about the 'value to the city of tourism' is not good enough. We need firm and decisive action to deal with the imminent threat.”

The report from Visit Cambridge and Beyond expressed a wish to develop a "joint strategy" to tackle tourism in Cambridge, while recognising the economic opportunities it poses. This would particularly involve changing "the perception of Cambridge as a day trip destination, but this is deeply ingrained and would take some time.” Instead, tourists would be encouraged to stay for a longer amount of time and visit the surrounding area.

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