To those of us who live and work in Wiltshire it is not surprising VisitBritain has reported a sharp rise in overseas visitors travelling to the county for their holidays.
We are so lucky that in most of our towns and villages community spirit is alive and well and there are so many fantastic free events going on all summer long.
I was covering the Devizes Street Fair on Sunday and one couple told me they had chosen to move to the town as when they were house hunting they had loved the carnival events so much.
Carnival spirit is still alive and well in many of our Wiltshire towns and the traditional parades have spawned many offshoots.
This Saturday the Trowbridge Carnival country fair will be held in the park as the band of volunteers gear up for the parade on October 18.
The best thing about the carnival processions is that friends, families, neighbours, pub regulars, youth groups and an eclectic mix of individuals all get together to have fun creating a float and then parading their achievements around the streets.
Some of the entries are wonderfully creative and almost professional in their result while others are, frankly, a bit naff – but that doesn’t matter. It is the taking part that is important and the more homely of the entries capture the real spirit of the carnival more than those that are too carefully crafted.
I will be at the roadside in Devizes this Saturday as the procession leaves The Green at 6pm for my first carnival of the year. I love the bands and the numerous majorette troupes often with youngsters who are smaller than their batons desperately trying to keep in step. Embarrassingly I am always moved to tears by the spectacle that seems to encompass everything that is the best about Wiltshire.
So it is great that more and more visitors are coming to Wiltshire to enjoy these simple pleasures. Who needs the grand Disney parades down Main Street in Paris, Florida or Los Angeles when we have the Major Wrecks?
The VisitBritain figures show that visits to Wiltshire and other parts of the South West grew at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country, up 48 per cent from July to September last year.
This is good news as these visitors are vital to keep the county’s hotel rooms full, restaurants busy and shop tills ringing. The figures for spending by international holiday visitors in the South West was up seven per cent from £28m in 2012 to £30m in 2013.
Of course a lot of these visitors were drawn to the county by our big name attractions such as Stonehenge with its new visitor centre but I like to think that it is the more homespun events that maybe stick in the holidaymakers minds and keeps them coming back.