Sporting fixtures and cultural festivals help city’s hoteliers reach seasonal peak.
Birmingham’s accommodation sector posted average occupancy rates of 75% this summer, the best for this time of year since records began in 2003.
The region’s hoteliers enjoyed year-on-year occupancy rises in June (up 3%), July (up 2%) and August (up 2%), according to latest data from the West Midlands Growth Company’s Regional Observatory and STR Global. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) also rose to £48, a £4 increase on the average figure recorded in summer 2016.
Events contributing to the city’s summer growth included a number of international sporting fixtures. Five matches of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy were staged at Edgbaston Stadium, with the India v Bangladesh semi-final attracting the highest crowd (24,340) for any match in the tournament. The ground also played host to 70,000 spectators, including two sell-out days, for the country’s first Day/Night Test Match between England and West Indies.
In June, Edgbaston Priory Club hosted the Aegon Classic Birmingham, won by double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, and fans said their goodbyes to Sir Mo Farah at the Müller Grand Prix in August, as he ended his track career.
Birmingham City Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward said: “These record-breaking figures outline Birmingham’s growing popularity as a tourist destination. There’s no doubt that our rich calendar of sporting and cultural events is a huge attraction. People enjoy coming to Birmingham for major events and importantly many of them come back time and time again.”
Other major cultural events in Birmingham over the summer included The Big Sleuth public art trail; Dinosaurs in the Wild at the NEC; the Colmore Food Festival; and the Custard Factory’s Summer Jam.
Emma Gray, Director of Marketing & Communications at the West Midlands Growth Company, which operates the region’s leisure and business tourism programmes Visit and Meet Birmingham, said: “Confidence in the region continues to grow, which is reflected in the tourism sector with an all-time, seasonal high for our hoteliers and an additional 13 accommodation venues in the pipeline – amounting to more than 2,000 extra bedrooms.
“With a busy Christmas in the region fast approaching, we’re also looking ahead to 2018. Our visitor offer will be boosted by the launches of Legoland Discovery Centre at Arena Birmingham and The Bear Grylls Adventure at the NEC. With the return of the World Indoor Athletics Championships and International Dance Festival Birmingham, there will be something for everyone to enjoy in the region next year.”
Hotels that have opened in 2017 include Holiday Inn Express Birmingham City Centre at Arena Central and No.8 Waterloo Street, featuring 31 self-serviced apartments. Next summer, Hilton Garden Inn will open at Birmingham Airport, and a new hotel and conferencing facility will launch in autumn 2018 at the University of Birmingham’s main campus in Edgbaston. Venues including Hallmark Hotel and Radisson Blu have also transformed their offerings, following significant refurbishments.
Hina Simpson, General Manager at Radisson Blu, said: “The summer was a really positive time for the city, with so many events and activities bringing people into Birmingham, and we hope the positive momentum continues leading up to Christmas with the German Markets and festive events just a matter of weeks away.
“Closer to home, we’re also really excited to be able to unveil our new look hotel following the completion of a £3 million refurbishment. The investment has made a huge difference and really stands us in great stead to be able to compete as one of Birmingham’s leading hotels. With our superb location, stylish product and fantastic team members, I feel really confident the hotel will go from strength to strength in the coming months and years.”
With a 52% increase in overseas visitors to Birmingham in the past five years, the West Midlands Growth Company – through its tourism programmes – has recently undertaken successful sales missions in the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, China and South East Asia to promote the region’s leisure and business tourism offer internationally.
This is fundamental to the West Midlands’ visitor economy strategy, working closely with Visit Britain and Visit England to ensure the region’s offer is promoted in key international markets. In November, the Growth Company team will also meet with representatives from 17 of VisitBritain’s international markets, to share news and discover ways to collaborate on future projects.