Birmingham’s visitor numbers reach record high

Birmingham attracted an additional 154,000 visitors last year according to new figures released by industry research body, Global Tourism Solutions. Visitor numbers rose to 32.8m in 2010, from 32.6m in 2009 – bringing an additional £18m into the city. The overall value of the city’s visitor economy is now £4.6bn.

Birmingham’s strong performance appears to be bucking both a national and international trend – with tourism bodies VisitBritain and VisitEngland both reporting drops in the number of domestic and international visitors holidaying in the UK [1].

The STEAM report, produced annually by Global Tourism Solutions to assess the economic impact of visitors to the UK’s major cities, also revealed that its 32.8m visitors spent nearly 37.5m days in Birmingham in 2010 – an increase of 364,000 days. The average visitor to the city stays for 1.1 days and spends £140.

Birmingham’s visitor economy has grown significantly over the last five years with visitor numbers rising by 13% from 29.1m to 32.8m. These figures fuel the sector’s growing economic impact which has risen by nearly three quarters (72%) in the last five years - from £2.7bn in 2005 to £4.6bn in 2010. The strength of the city’s visitor economy has also created 21,220 jobs over the last five years, with employment in the sector going up by more than half (57%).

Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

“Birmingham’s visitor economy has seen strong growth in recent years – from visitor numbers, their economic impact and the number of jobs created by the sector. Today’s figures confirm its position as a key driver of the local economy.

 “The city’s continued investment in its infrastructure, transport networks and resources to promote its offer at home and abroad have helped to attract new visitors and provide them with the high quality experiences they need to return, and to recommend Birmingham to others.  This growing reputation is what, in turn, has created economic growth and jobs for the city.

“The city continues to support the work of Marketing Birmingham in promoting the city as a visitor destination. The fact that Birmingham has seen visitor numbers increase despite a drop in figures nationally indicates that our promotional activity is achieving real results.”

Neil Rami, Chief Executive, Marketing Birmingham, said:

“These figures are extremely encouraging given the current economic climate and are testimony to Birmingham’s proposition for both leisure and business visitors alike.

“As we know, the weak pound and increased fuel costs have led to a rise in the ‘staycation’, with more people looking at what is available in the UK rather than travelling further afield for holidays. The choice of where to go for a break has taken on greater significance than ever – and by opting for Birmingham, visitors are voting with their feet.”

The city’s non-serviced accommodation sector also saw significant benefits from the increased visitor numbers. The research outlined an overall increase in the number of overnight stays at non-serviced accommodation, with the sector enjoying a 17% jump in bookings, up from 609,480 to 711,560 as consumers seek home-from-home hotel experiences when visiting the city. In comparison, national figures fell, with 6% fewer bed nights and a 5% decrease in spend [1].

Birmingham’s hospitality sector is eagerly awaiting some exciting additions to its existing portfolio with 28 hotels currently at various stages in planning and construction. The new development activity demonstrates the confidence investors have in both this sector and Birmingham itself as a vital leisure and business destination.

Two flagship hotels are planned for the city by Sanguine Hospitality Limited.  These include one of Birmingham’s newest developments - the upscale boutique Hotel Indigo, occupying two floors of The Cube and including 42 bedrooms and 10 suites, which is due to open in December - and the £34 million 285-bedroom Hampton by Hilton hotel based at Cumberland House on Broad Street.

Simon Matthews-Williams, Chairman, Sanguine Hospitality Limited, said:

“Our significant investment in Birmingham reflects our confidence in the city as a growing leisure and business break destination.  We recognise the vast opportunity offered by Birmingham’s visitor economy and are extremely proud to be part of two of the most exciting developments currently under construction in the city. The Hampton by Hilton and Indigo at The Cube offer quite different propositions and reflect the vast array of visitors to the city and their differing requirements.”

[1] Figures taken from the United Kingdom Tourism Survey 2010 (UKTS), a national consumer survey measuring the volume and value of tourism trips taken by residents of the United Kingdom and VisitBritain’s Inbound Tourism facts (updated April 2011), based on the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey.

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