Kinver Edge Rock Houses voted into top locations list as West Midlands tourism visits rise
Dramatic sandstone rock houses near Stourbridge have been dubbed a ‘hidden gem’ of the UK after travellers named them one of their must-visit destinations.
The historic Rock Houses at Kinver Edge, are well known for being the last troglodyte – caveman – dwellings occupied in England.
Owned by the National Trust, they are described as a place ‘with sweeping views, a wildlife haven in the heath and unique homes carved straight into the rock’.
Visitors are now able to walk around the dwellings and see what life was like for inhabitants in different times, including the Martindale Caves, which have been restored to show life in the 1930s.
A total of 1,400 people from across the UK were surveyed by housebuilder McCarthy and Stone to choose the nation’s ‘hidden gems’.
Its aim was to find the UK’s best locations and attractions for family days out, day trips or short breaks away.
The voters ranged in age, gender and geographic demographics.
The Rock Houses proved itself to be a sought-after destination for people in the South East and West Midlands regions, and even claimed votes from the North East and Scotland.
It won six per cent of the total votes, coming fourth overall after winners Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, which claimed 17 per cent of the votes, the Shell Grotto in Kent which took 13 per cent, and Blakeney Point, Norfolk which picked up 11 per cent.
International visits hit new record
Meanwhile the West Midlands attracted more international visits last year than ever before, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Tourism is booming, with the region welcoming a record 2.3 million visits last year – a six per cent increase on 2016, as highlighted by the latest International Passenger Survey (IPS) report.
The West Midlands experienced the second highest growth in international visits of all English regions, behind only the North West.
It also secured the highest proportion of business visits of all UK destinations, with two out of five, or 39per cent, visits to the area for this purpose.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Tourism plays a vital role in the region’s economy, supporting thousands of jobs and delivering inclusive growth. It also helps to showcase the West Midlands internationally to the benefit of our other key sectors.
Nicola Hewitt, Commercial Director at the West Midlands Growth Company, added: “These figures are proof not only of the popularity of the West Midlands’ leisure tourism offer, but its standing as an important global destination for business and corporate events.
“Through our work with VisitBritain and partners including Birmingham Airport, we are promoting the region as widely as ever.
"By targeting markets with the potential to attract even more visitors, such as India, China and Germany, we want to build on the West Midlands’ positive reputation ahead of major events such as the 2021 Coventry City of Culture and 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
In 2017, the West Midlands played host to major international sporting fixtures including the ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston Stadium and Diamond League athletics.
A number of projects are currently underway around the West Midlands to boost its reputation as a business and tourist destination.
These include England’s Waterways, an initiative to inspire international visitors to explore the canal networks and surrounding cultural offer throughout the region.
England’s Heartland campaign is a gateway project with Birmingham Airport, Shakespeare’s England, Visit Peak District and Visit England to market the region to a global audience, boost overseas bookings, and promote direct flights to the area.