NEARLY 24 million tourists visited Oxfordshire in 2012, spending more than £1.7bn in the county.

In Oxford alone more than £720m was spent by visitors.

The latest figures released by Tourism South East show that the number of people visiting the area on day trips increased slightly for the year – up 1.6 per cent from 2011.

And the total spent on tourism in Oxfordshire also saw a small increase – up 1.3 per cent on 2011.

Those in the industry have said the Olympics and other high-profile events put the county on the map and boosted visitor numbers.

Chief executive of Experience Oxfordshire Giles Ingram said: “The Olympics year was fantastic for putting the area on the map. Since then 2013 has been a better year as well.”

West Oxfordshire saw the highest proportional increase in tourism-related spending across the county with a three per cent rise in spending in 2012.

Tourists spent £268.2m in 2012, which was an increase from the £260.4m spent in the district in 2011.

In Cherwell, tourist spending was up by nearly two per cent from 2011 and Oxford City saw a rise of 1.6 per cent from 2011.

South Oxfordshire experienced a rise of 0.2 per cent from 2011, while the Vale of White Horse was the only area to see a decrease in total tourist expenditure in 2012, down by two per cent from 2011.

The figures are from the annual Economic Impact of Tourism Study by Tourism South East.

In Oxford, a total of 153,565 people used the visitor information centre in Broad Street between June and September in 2012. And last summer, numbers topped 192,000.

Christ Church saw 376,000 visitors in the year up to the end of July 2012 and 411,000 visitors in the year up to the end of July 2013.

College Dean Christopher Lewis said: “There do seem to be more people coming to Oxford and quite a lot of those visitors are groups. The Olympics did have an effect.”

Magdalen College home bursar Mark Blandford-Baker said it saw a five per cent drop in the number of visitors in 2012 with 30,000 paying tourists. But last year, figures jumped to 37,000.

An Oxford University spokesman said: “We are very pleased to hear about an increase in tourist numbers to Oxford.

“The university has always been a major attraction for visitors to the city thanks to its rich history, stunning architecture and high-quality cultural offerings.

“Many of our colleges open their doors to the public, while our world-class museums and collections attract millions of visitors each year.”

At the Oxford Castle Quarter, Sam Pace said: “Oxford Castle Unlocked is doing very well and our Open Doors weekend where we invite people to look inside has seen an increase over the last few years.”

Cogges Manor Farm at Witney saw visitors jump to 20,000 in 2012 – and 32,000 last year.