BOLTON’S booming tourism industry made £343 million for the town’s economy.

The latest figures from Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM) revealed tourism profits rose by two per cent in 2011, compared to 2010.

And things look set to get even better for the town as Bolton’s Food Festival, which takes place annually over the August Bank Holiday, and Ironman are among the town’s key attractions.

The food festival, which includes celebrity chef demonstrations, has attracted nearly 100,000 people over the past two years.

Ironman brought in almost £2.7 million to Bolton’s economy last year. Organisers estimated athletes and visiting spectators spent £2,693,343 in the borough — a five per cent increase on 2011.

This year’s Ironman is also expected to be a success as the event is already fully subscribed — more than five months earlier than last year’s event.

Bolton’s Strongman attracted more than 1,000 people to watch competitors from across the country go head-to-head for the title.

The STEAM report showed 4,632 jobs in Bolton are supported by tourism, up by three per cent compared to 2010. Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Cliff Morris, said: "Tourism is important to our local economy.

“In 2011, 6.8 million visitors came to Bolton either on day trips or stayed overnight. The increase in people staying overnight is due to the Travelodge hotel in River Street, which opened in November, 2011. This private sector investment was a show of confidence in the town centre.

“We're delighted Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive was the seventh most visited attraction in Greater Manchester in 2011. The exhibition programme was particularly popular with exhibitions Fakes and Forgeries and Nat Lofthouse: A Celebration, attracting visitor figures of 10,000 and 30,000 respectively.

“Times are difficult but what these figures do show is despite the tough economic conditions people are still coming to Bolton.

The Olympic torch is expected to have an impact on last year’s figures as thousands of people filled the town centre and Queens Park.

Figures for the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester show, from 2010 to 2011, the number of people employed in the industry rose from 77,000 to 81,000.

Tourism in Greater Manchester brought in an extra £400 million, bringing the total to £6.2 billion in 2011.