TOURISM in Ryedale is bucking the national trend with new figures showing the industry is worth £213 million a year to the district economy - with one of the area's attractions in the top five most visited places in England.

Results from the Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS) show there was a two per cent increase in overnight trips to the region and a three per cent increase in spending – compared to a decrease in overnight visits nationally by nine per cent.

In a further survey by Visit England, Flamingo Land theme park and zoo was ranked five in the most visited paid attractions in England last year with over 1.5 million visitors. The most popular attraction was the Tower of London, followed by Hylands House in the East of England, and Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Sarah Mills, director of marketing at Flamingo Land, said: "We are delighted that we have once again been identified as one of the top five paid for visitor attractions in the UK, and the only one from the North of England.

"The continuous investment into the park is evidently being appreciated by our visitors. These figures also show us to be the most visited zoo in the UK, indicating that our conservation work and international breeding programmes are of interest to the public."

Around 4.5 million tourism day trips were made to Ryedale in 2014 with expenditure per head up for four per cent.

The number of trips made by visitors from overseas to the area was up by six per cent and their trip spend was up by 15 per cent compared to the previous year.

In total, it is estimated that around £70 million was spent by all overnight visitors, up four per cent from 2013.

Approximately £213 million was spent on trips to the district in 2014 by overnight and day visitors, up four per cent compared to 2013.

Coun Linda Cowling, Leader of Ryedale District Council said: “We’re obviously delighted with these results and they reflect the positive feedback we’ve had with local tourism businesses in the last twelve months about trade being buoyant in all parts of the district.

"We won’t of course know this year’s figures until 2016, but we hope they will be just as good.

Coun Cowling added: “We firmly believe that the whole tourism industry working together to improve the visitor offer is the key to success. The Ryedale ‘offer’ - strong calendar of events, quality attractions and lots of choice about where people can stay and dine, combined with how these elements are promoted - is getting better all the time. Add to that the area’s reputation for value for money and great customer service we’re well placed to ensure the district continues to be a destination of choice for visitors from all over the UK and beyond.”

Will Oxley, chair of the Ryedale Tourism Advisory Board, said: "This is fantastic news and reflects the hard work that the private sector businesses and Ryedale District Council, working with partners such as Welcome to Yorkshire, Visit York and Visit Hull and East Yorkshire, have been doing to promote the area.