Fewer visitors came to the Isle of Wight last summer but they spent more money with local businesses, the Island's tourism boss has revealed.

Around £280 million was forked out on the Island, by tourists, between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023.

Speaking at the Isle of Wight Council's regeneration scrutiny committee last night (Thursday), Visit Isle of Wight's managing director, Will Myles said more than 1.96 million visitors came to the Island during that period.

Comparing it to 2019 — the last year that was not impacted by the Covid pandemic — £275.8 million was spent on the Island and 2.1 million tourists visited.

Mr Myles said the fact there was more spend but fewer visitors was the "strange part of it all".

He said it was the tourism board's goal to recover visitor numbers to pre-pandemic levels and also increase them.

Visit Isle of Wight is now part of a national programme which allows it to help shape tourism policy across Britain.

Cllr Karl Love said the ferry fares needed to be made cheaper so more people would come to the Island, especially when competing with cheap flights to Europe.

When comparing the Island's tourism numbers with similar major coastal tourism destinations, Mr Myles said "we are sitting alongside a competitive set and doing ok."

Overall, tourism equates to 30 per cent of the Island's economy, Mr Myles said.

One of the key issues, the tourism board is working on is making the Island more accessible for tourists with disabilities.

Visit Isle of Wight will be working with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower charity and delivering training to Island businesses on how to help people.

It is also working with Ryde Town Council to provide accessible beach access, in time for summer.

Councillors asked what work was being done to extend the season and encourage businesses to be open in the off-season as different audiences will come to the Island at different times.

Mr Myles said holding walking festivals outside of the peak season is helping to attract a new audience.

He revealed a third of the Island's tourists visit outside of the main summer season, which they were looking to increase, but also said attractions and hotels needed to be open.