Who’d have known it? Southampton has been revealed as a top UK destination for foreign tourists, according to latest figures reported by The Daily Echo.

Well, not exactly top, but it bagged 18th place. The stats show that 221,000 overseas visitors came for a stay of at least one night in 2013. Yes- a stay meaning a holiday. A holiday in Soton.

While it was beaten by a dozen and a half other British cities, with the likes of London (16.7 million), Edinburgh (1.3 million) and even Birmingham (941,000) coming out way above, Southampton managed to top its south coast rivals.

highfield-house-hotel

Enjoy a leisurely stay at the Highfield Hotel, and enjoy the wonders of Portswood…

Indeed, both beachy Bournemouth and posh port Portsmouth failed to make it into the top 20.

For some reason, tourists from overseas are choosing Soton, our university town- the place where we spend the majority of the time either head down in assignments or getting off our faces- as a place to enjoy a holiday.

And it’s nothing to do with the city’s port status. The only ferry crossings to Southampton are from the Isle of White- hardly where the foreign tourists are coming from.

So what is the attraction? There must be something beyond the university, the buzzing student nightlife and the cheap late-night grub that is luring these tourists in.

Perhaps we are just so fixed within the student bubble that we fail to recognize what cultural wonders the city has to offer. Maybe that old wall they call Bargate is in fact a fascinating historical monument, and the city’s rundown port is still a marvel of Britain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe beautiful Bargate: highlight of the holiday…

Or maybe the reality is that Southampton deceives its visitors.

Realistically speaking, many naive tourists are probably drawn in by the geographical ‘seaside’ location and the surprisingly large selection of hotels in the city. They are then no doubt wholly dissatisfied when they find themselves in the middle of an urban city that barely has a port let alone a beach, surrounded by students, and left with few family activities to do other than shopping.

So do these stats suggest that we, as students, are desperately ignorant as to the culture and beauty that the city has to offer? Or does Southampton just do a good job at tricking all these poor tourists into thinking that it is more than a city of students, seedy old docks and a ceaseless stream of Unilink buses?

Give us your views in the comments below.

11 Comments »

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  • Geoff
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    “And it’s nothing to do with the city’s port status.” What rubbish, it’s probably because of the large number of cruise ships which dock here and people are staying either a night either end of their cruise before flying out or getting the train back to the London airports.

    I’d be more interested in the figures for people staying more than one night since that would be a better representation of people coming here on an actual holiday rather than a stayover.

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  • Dave
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    It almost certainly has something do with our seedy docks. Cruise liners arrive in Southampton anywhere between 4 and 7 am with new passengers boarding from 10 am onwards. If I were cruising out of Southampton and I didn’t live in the south, then I certainly would get a hotel room the night before. Especially if you were to rely on flights in to Southampton Airport or public transport.

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  • Wrong
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    And it’s nothing to do with the city’s port status. The only ferry crossings to Southampton are from the Isle of White- hardly where the foreign tourists are coming from.

    What complete and utter shit.

    Each week at least three, often up to 10 cruise ships, some originating from here arrive to and leave from the dock. Each one can carry 2,000-4,000 passengers, and for those that originate from here (that’s most that leave the UK), passengers often stay overnight before joining the ship.

    Your assumption that Southampton is in some way a University city seems rather shortsighted. Cambridge is a University city, Southampton is a city, with two Universities. Once you are out of Portswood and Highfield, you forget that students exist whatsoever, and it’s awesome! Southampton is a big, brilliant, vibrant city, and the Universities are but a small speck of that!

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    a uni student
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    Why are you on sotontab if you’d rather forget about students?

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    cjeam
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    There are 40,000 students here out of a population of 250,000. The universities are significant employers in terms of staff numbers. They’re not a speck exactly.

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  • Dutchie
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    Additionally: Think of all the international students here! I’ve already had visits of 7 people coming over for a day or two, must have an impact as well?

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  • anon
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    Makes me laugh when journalists misinterpret information, make a tonne of assumptions, think they’ve found something new then publish it thinking they’ve revolutionised the world…

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    Seriously?
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    “Journalists” I wouldn’t go that far

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  • Sarah
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    I can fully understand why people would want to come to Southampton for a mini break or holiday. The New Forest is within easy travelling distance but the city hotels are cheaper than the forest hotels. There is a lot of history around the city the main one springing to mind (at 8am after being awake best part of 3 hours already) is Titanic sailing from Southampton. There’s also a lot of history of the actual city as it’s a port city so there’s plenty to find out about the development. Throw in the country parks in surrounding areas (Itchen Valley, Lakeside, Victoria, Manor Farm Park), the possibility of sailing on a cruise from here and theeasy availability to get to other places such as the Island then it makes a lot of sense that people want to come here. Perhaps you shouldn’t be so bloody negative about the place you chose to come to. The city has a lot to offer other than jesticles and STD’s.

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  • cricket lad
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    Very poorly written article in an over the top style. Try harder next time please.

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  • Concerned
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    Wow. Did you really just spell ‘Isle of Wight’ as ‘Isle of White’?!

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