MALVERN Hills District Council is set to explore ways of raising the area’s profile to attract more tourists.

At a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, members heard economic development officer Simon Smith explain how important tourism is for the district and what is being done to promote it.

He told members that in 2016/17, almost 3.5 million visitors came to the district as day trippers or for longer stays, with the total economic benefit from tourism being just over £125 million, supporting some 2,500 jobs in the district.

He said: “We’ve moved into using social media in a much more productive way, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, The accounts have a growing number of followers, and Instagram seems to me particularly useful, because it’s so visual.”

He also said that the upgrade of the council’s website in May 2017 had been a success, with the number of visitors in the subsequent 12 months reaching 1,015,932, more than twice the previous year. The new site features searchable areas for accommodation, attractions, food and drink, and walks as well as what’s on events listings.

He said that a walks app for mobile devices had also been a success, with some 12,500 copies downloaded and user ratings of between 4.5 and 5.

Other initiatives include Route to the Hills, which is largely completed and included a large amount of community impact, he said.

Cllr Douglas Godwin said that he knew from attending the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb that events like that attracted visitors from across the UK and Europe, and further afield.

“I was quite impressed with how many people were staying not just for the event, but for a week, because they had come all that distance and wanted to find out more about the district. That is what we should be encouraging.”