STATISTICS have been released that show Wiltshire’s tourism industry is growing rapidly and the trend looks set to continue, thanks to new government plans.

International tourists spent £97 million visiting Wiltshire last year, up 17 per cent from 2013, while 287,000 visits were made to the county in 2014, also up 17 per cent from 2013.

The government’s recently announced plans to drive tourists beyond London look set to keep Wiltshire’s tourism sector on an upward curve.

These include plans for a better co-ordinated sector, which would see local attractions and tourism organisations collaborating rather than competing, to encourage growth.

There will also be efforts to forge innovative links between the transport and tourism.

Claire Mann is a Tourist Officer at Malmesbury Tourist Information Centre and has seen the increase in tourism to the area first-hand.

“Last month particularly there was an improvement in numbers from last year,” she said.

“There’s no particular reason for that which suggests there are just more people out and about.

“We have a number of different events such as WOMAD which always bring in numbers.”

During his visit to the South West recently the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said: "Millions of overseas tourists visit the UK every year and most take in the sights of London.

“But Britain has so much more to offer, from the Cornish Riviera to the Scottish Highlands and everything in between.

"For many areas tourism is a key industry bringing jobs, growth and security for working people.

“Tourism supports almost one in ten jobs in the UK and we want to rebalance the economy to make sure this boost is felt right across the country.”

Tourism Minister, Tracey Crouch, said: “Wiltshire offers a great and varied mix of sights and experiences. It’s fantastic that so many tourists visited the county in 2014.

“Competition for global travellers has never been higher, which is why we must not be complacent and continue to invest and support the UK’s tourism offer.

“I look forward to working closely with the tourism sector to champion the best of Britain as part of our long-term economic plan and see places like Wiltshire continue to enjoy a growing tourism industry.”

VisitWiltshire’s Chairman, Peter Wragg, welcomed the news: “We are pleased to hear the government are supporting the industry with a new tourism plan, and delighted this includes encouraging VisitBritain to promote destinations outside London.

“We look forward to working with other SW destinations to benefit from the SW Tourism Growth Fund to support the existing work being undertaken by VisitWiltshire to ensure visitors stay and spend in the county.

“We also welcome the government’s recommendation tasking VistiEngland to work in closer partnership with VisitWiltshire and other South West destinations.”