According to IMFS Leisure, the new rising stars of tourism are counties with a strong rural appeal where the accent is on unspoiled landscapes and activities such as walking and pony trekking.
The company looked at which of Britain's regions in 2010 recorded the biggest rises in popularity among holiday homes buyers, compared with previous years.
Chester-based IMFS Leisure named the top five county champions as Shropshire, Derbyshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Essex and Northumberland.
"Favourite tourist destinations such as the West Country, Cumbria, North Wales and the Highlands all held firm with holiday home buyers in 2010," said company marketing manager Jane Whittle.
"But we were interested to discover the stalking horses amongst Britain's eighty-six counties which were quietly wooing visitors away from the traditional honeypots.
"Although some of the five do have coastlines, their biggest tourism assets are expansive areas of open countryside ranging from Derbyshire's Peak District to the forests of Northumberland.
"The wild card among our winners might seem to be Essex with its reputation for white stilettos and clubbing, but it's actually a mainly rural county with almost four thousands of miles of footpaths.
"In fact, the main attraction of all of our top counties seems to be country walking and more active pursuits such as biking and pony trekking," added Jane.
IMFS Leisure arranges millions of pounds' worth of loans each year for buyers of holiday caravans and lodges on many of Britain's 3000-plus holiday parks.
This summer, says Jane, the company's business was almost triple that of last year, enabling it to gain a fuller picture of which counties were climbing fastest up the popularity polls.
"In our view, the new county challengers are good news for everyone as they are helping to spread tourism spending more evenly across Britain's rural economies," commented Jane.
"But I don't think there's any danger of deserted beaches or empty tea shops in areas such as Cumbria: the figures show our leading holiday stars are shining as brightly as ever!" she added.
More information about IMFS Leisure can be found at www.imfsleisure.co.uk