IT IS official - Brighton and Hove is the most popular seaside destination in the UK.
The city had 409,000 visits in 2013 - up more than 50,000 from the previous year.
This is according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, which are based on information about stays of at least one night.
Hoteliers described the city as “very special” and “the perfect place to come”.
Soozie Campbell, chairwoman of the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, said: “I think this just reinforces the point the Tourism Alliance has been making for the last few years - that Brighton is first and foremost a tourist destination.
“It is tourism that puts us on the map not new media or ecology.
“It's been a lot of hard work on the part of everyone in the sector and we need to keep up the pressure to maintain our seafront and major attractions.
“We also need to keep the shops, bars, cafes and restaurants alive and buzzing.
“We are doing all that we can through major events such as the May Festival and Fringe, our Food Festivals and other activities but it isn't easy when public funding is in decline and we are facing a £100 million bill to restore the seafront infrastructure.
Tony Mernagh, executive director of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said: “I suspect that our success is another example of Brighton punching above its purse as it does in so many areas of the economy.
“The tourism budgets of some of the destinations above us will be measured in the millions.”
Simon Maguire, general manager at Hotel du Vin, said: “The feeling I get from my customers is that Brighton offers the perfect place to come, as it offers the perfect balance of beautiful scenery minutes from the town centre and fantastic night life and cultural events.
“In my career I've worked in many hotels in many cities and I can honestly say Brighton has the best balance of the lot.”
Richard Hayes, general manager at Drakes Hotel, said: “We're massive advocates of Brighton, there's so much to do and it's great for weekend breaks. We could usually fill up the hotel four or five times over during the weekend.
“It has great links with London, which makes it very special, and there's always something going on - there's a festival virtually every weekend.”
Overall Brighton and Hove is the eighth most popular town or city for tourists in the UK but no other seaside resort made the top 20.
This is behind Edinburgh at number one and Bristol at seven, but ahead of Cambridge at ninth and Bath at 12th.