HOTELS, B&Bs, restaurants, cafes and visitor attractions across Worcester are being urged to help draw up a vital new tourism strategy.

Worcester City Council wants to put together a new five-year blueprint for pulling more visitors in, saying there is masses of untapped potential yet to be realised.

Tourism is estimated to be worth £160 million to Worcester's economy with its riverside, growing sporting reputation, history and independent shops the big draws.

But with rival destinations such as Birmingham seeing record levels of international investment and the likes of Cheltenham and Stratford proving stiff competition, the city's Labour leadership says the time to take stock is now.

A new survey has been launched with a view to the fresh strategy, which will last until 2021, winning cross-party support in the autumn.

Labour Councillor Geoff Williams, cabinet member for economic prosperity and growth, said: "To make sure we get this important new strategy right we need a detailed impression of where we're starting from.

"Everyone involved in our city's tourism industry will benefit from this, so I want to urge local businesses to fill in this vital survey."

Bosses say the findings from it will help identify key areas where investment is most needed, the busiest and quietest times for Worcester, and what gaps there are in the city's tourism offer.

They also want business owners to offer opinions on the barriers to success and if their training needs are being met - suggesting taxpayers' cash could be earmarked towards that.

Figures reveal more than 3,000 people are employed in Worcester's tourism sector, making it a vital industry.

Visitor numbers are up a whopping 39 per cent since 2000, while international tourists to Worcestershire as a whole have topped 100,000 in a single year.

The explosion in visitor numbers is broadly in line with the trends across Britain's small and medium-sized cities, where so-called 'staycations' and weekend breaks have become hugely popular since the turn of the century.

During the last decade record sums of money have been invested into Worcester's riverside corridor, with the old Conservative leadership making tourism one of its key priorities while in office, something Labour wants to continue.

Council chiefs say the published strategy will also include an 'action plan' aimed at uniting businesses, the public, local authorities, and regional and national tourism agencies about what Worcester's offer is.

Worcester Cathedral, the city's Business Improvement District (BID) and Worcestershire County Council are among the bodies also involved in it.

The survey can be done online by visiting