SOUTHAMPTON has been named among Britain’s most popular tourist destinations despite the recession.

More than 871,000 visitors flocked to the city during 2011, according to a report by one of the UK’s leading hotel chains, Travelodge.

The study shows that the number of people holidaying in Southampton rose by more than 100,000 since 2007 – an increase of 14 per cent.

The impressive figures placed the city fifth in the list of Britain’s most popular towns and cities, in terms of the percentage increase in visitor numbers.

Southampton was beaten only by York, Skegness, Scarborough and Liverpool, which came out on top of the poll with a 23 per cent rise in tourist numbers.

And the impressive results saw the city beat the likes of London, Newcastle and Birmingham.

Meanwhile, the overall number of people holidaying in the UK increased by three per cent, to 157 million.

Grant Hearn, CEO of Travelodge, said: “Our report confirms UK tourism has successfully weathered the recession and outperformed other key sectors, which is really great news.

“As the UK’s fifth largest sector, we are creating jobs and providing long-lasting career opportunities, something very few industries in the economy can say at present.”