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National Forest stats show 2016 was its busiest ever year for tourists

The forest has also reported a tourism spend of more than £395.2 million and employs 4,849

Osprey Drones have created the footage of Calke Abbey from the skies

More than eight million visitors made their way to the National Forest in 2016 - the busiest summer ever for the tourist attraction.

New statistics show that a total of 8.2 million people visited the forest over the summer months.

The forest, which spans 200 miles of South Derbyshire and the Midlands, sustains 4,849 full-time jobs, with a recorded tourism spend of more than £395.2 million.

People flooded to the National Forest in 2016

 

John Everitt, chief executive for the National Forest Company, said the figures were great news for the local and regional economy.

Mr Everitt said: "It's a great benchmark to measure the success of our new tourism growth plan which seeks to develop sustainable tourism in the forest and increase spend and jobs by 15 per cent."

The National Forest Company, the firm responsible for the forest, launched a tourism growth plan for the next ten years, which will see up to 700 new jobs brought to the area, with hopes of boosting visitor spending by 15 per cent.

The project has been hailed as a blueprint for UK tourism and will see a major jobs boost across a range of areas, from hospitality and accommodation to food and drink as well as outdoor activities and tourist start-ups.

Plans were revealed in September this year to develop the site across the next ten years, building corporate partnerships which will see the venue play host to weddings and a brand new summer festival.

In the last 25 years, more than eight and a half million trees have been planted, taking woodland coverage from just six per cent in the early 1990s to 20.2 per cent now, more than double the national average.

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