Booming Birmingham smashes tourism records with £6.2Bn boost to city economy
The Rugby World Cup and the opening of Grand Central shopping centre helped make 2015 a record year for tourism in Birmingham, new research has found.
More than 38 million people will have visited the city by the end of the year with revenue from tourism hitting an all-time high of £6.2 billion, according to Marketing Birmingham.
Preliminary estimates were released by the Regional Observatory and tourism research body Global Tourism Solutions (GTS).
The figures beat the previous record in 2014, which saw Birmingham’s tourist numbers and visitor economy grow at a faster rate than any other major UK regional city.
This year’s count was boosted by Birmingham’s landmark ‘Super September’, which saw visitor numbers peak at four million throughout the month due to the rugby at Villa Park and the Grand Central opening.
The 2015 STEAM report – which is produced annually to assess the economic impact of visitors to the UK’s major cities – also highlighted the growing appeal of Birmingham’s festival offering, which helped draw record numbers of visitors to the city.
This year’s calendar of more than 50 festivals included the city’s biggest charity art exhibition, The Big Hoot; Moseley Folk Festival, which celebrated its 10th anniversary; and the city’s largest arts festival to date, Birmingham Arts Partnership’s Birmingham Weekender.
The STEAM report also revealed visitor spend is expected to increase from £5.9 billion in 2014 to £6.2 billion in 2015 – a rise of £245 million, creating 859 more jobs in the city and surrounding region’s tourism sector.
Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham, said:
This year marked an important milestone for Birmingham and the surrounding region. These record visitor figures are proof of the city’s rapidly growing profile domestically and across the world, and demonstrate that our collaborative approach has been a resounding success.
Marketing Birmingham will continue to capitalise on Birmingham’s resurgence, ensuring we maintain and build on the city’s reputation as a globally competitive destination on the rise. We have long recognised the significance of working in partnership with stakeholders across the city to showcase Birmingham’s year of £1 billion transformation to the fullest.
The same success in tourism is reflected across the wider region.
The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) area is predicted to attract an additional 1.2 million visitors in 2015, resulting in an overall visitor economy worth £8.1 billion – £300 million more than the year before.
GBSLEP chair Andy Street said:
These figures are a further example of Greater Birmingham’s significant contribution to the growth of Britain’s economy. The area’s world-class culture, enterprise and innovation is attracting visitors and investment from across the globe, creating employment opportunities, and driving forward its reputation as a powerful gateway to the UK and Europe.
Perceptions of Greater Birmingham as a leading tourist destination continue to rise, with visitor numbers and revenue standing at an all-time high. Our economic and cultural renaissance is enabling us to tap into international visitor markets, and fast become one of Britain’s most thriving and dynamic business and visitor destinations.”
Roxana Silbert, Creative Director of Birmingham Weekender, and Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre, commented:
This year’s Birmingham Weekender gave us the opportunity to showcase the city as a national leader of arts and culture. 70 Birmingham arts organisation came together to put on an awe-inspiring, free festival that energised the city’s squares, streets and shopping centres. It also inspired around 69,000 people to travel to the city for the weekend.
With confidence in the region at an all-time high, Birmingham will aim to mirror the success of 2015 with a busy calendar of events next year which includes the return of the Conservative Party Conference, the 40th anniversary of the NEC and the International Dance Festival Birmingham.
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