Birmingham top for tourists according to new research

Birmingham’s reputation as a visitor destination is on the up, according to new research released today by Marketing Birmingham, the city’s strategic marketing partnership.

The Mailbox Birmingham

A study of over 8,000 international and UK respondents carried out by the Regional Observatory, the research arm operated by Marketing Birmingham, reveals Birmingham is fast becoming a must-visit destination for tourists with over three quarters (77%) planning to visit the city for a day trip, overnight stay or as part of a touring holiday.
With over a third (39%) of those who visited in the last year set to return for an overnight stay, Birmingham’s charms are winning over tourists.

The findings also reveal that the more recent their visit, the more positive tourists were about the city – Birmingham’s reputation as a visitor destination has grown by almost a third (32%) in the last five years. Increases were also seen in those rating it as good value for money (28%) and having excellent transport links (21%).

Promotion of the city to tourists through targeted campaigns, such as those run by Marketing Birmingham, are having a strong effect in key markets.

Of the respondents who had been to the city in the last year, two fifths (40%) said seeing an advertising campaign had motivated them to visit. Marketing Birmingham’s recent sales missions and media outreach programmes in overseas markets also appear to have made some impact, with four fifths (80%) of Chinese and nearly half (48%) of USA respondents claiming Birmingham has a good reputation for leisure and business.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham – which operates the city’s leisure and business tourism programmes, Visit and Meet Birmingham – as well as inward investment programme Business Birmingham, said: “Today’s findings demonstrate that Birmingham’s appeal to international tourists is increasing and that our marketing campaigns are building the city’s reputation and attracting visitors in growing markets.

“In the current climate, there is no room for complacency. More needs to be done to attract international tourists to the city and we have a targeted strategy to increase visitor numbers from key markets such as the USA, China and Europe.”

Today’s findings are backed up by the city’s record visitor numbers – Birmingham’s visitor economy has grown significantly over the last six years with visitor numbers rising by 10% to a high of 33.5 million in 2011.  The value of the city’s visitor economy now stands at £4.9 billion and it is a key driver of local business, supporting some 60,000 jobs. Employment in the sector has grown by more than 3% since 2006, accounting for roughly 10% of Birmingham’s overall economy.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The figures show Birmingham is winning the hearts of tourists, and are testimony to the city’s impressive visitor offer – a proposition that will only be strengthened in the coming years by the addition of new developments such as retail destination Grand Central, the New Street Gateway project and the £189 million Library of Birmingham.

“It is essential that we continue to grow our visitor offer and ensure it remains competitive with some of the world’s leading tourist destinations. Birmingham is the ideal choice for a break, we must keep it that way.”

Some of the most popular activities for visitors to Birmingham were shopping (67%), visiting the city centre (59%) and sampling its world renowned food and drink (55%) while over a third (36%) came to the city for a specific event or festival.

This year, Birmingham is set to welcome visitors from all over the globe with more than 50 festivals taking place in the city including the Discovery Festival, which celebrates the launch of the £189 million flagship Library of Birmingham in September 2013.

James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland, the national tourist board – which is responsible for marketing England to domestic and established overseas markets – said: “Birmingham is increasingly looked to as a top tourist destination for leisure and business travellers. The city is fast gaining a reputation as a must-see travel spot, with people keen to experience its unique cultural heritage, fantastic food, independent festivals and, above all else, its warm welcome.

“It’s no surprise that Birmingham is one of our most-visited destinations – the city holds many surprises and for those who have not been, it is a gem waiting to be discovered.”



3 thoughts on “Birmingham top for tourists according to new research

  1. Lies, damn lies and statistics…33.5m visitors per year, presumably they include anyone coming in from the Black Country, Solihull, Coventry etc…it would be amazing if many of those living in the wider conurbation did not visit the largest city in their region quite often. These figures would have more (some) credibility if they were broken down into where the ‘visitors’ came from and how many were just passing through or changing trains on their way somewhere else. The use of such high figures is an attempt to give the impression that Birmingham is a major tourist destination. It is not and if it was then our airport passenger numbers (c9m per anum, as they have been for around 5 years) while the city’s visitor attractions would be flourishing and expanding to reflect this. Sadly, I still struggle to advise people how to spend a whole day in Birmingham city centre (let alone a short break) doing anything that you couldn’t do in most major British cities (i.e. shopping, visiting bars, restaurants). Granted, there’s more in the suburbs and neighbouring towns.cities, but Birmingham city centre is a very one-dimensional place…chain shops, office blocks and apartments.

    • That’s a bit harsh, Steve. Possibly the numbers include each visitor going through the doors of the NEC over a year. Birmingham’s also become a politico-conf-fest destination in recent years so that adds to the numbers. A look at the data sets could be revealing.

      • Yes, seeing the data would be revealing, it’s a shame that Marketing Birmingham don’t present something more detailed in the first place. But even if we include those from OUTSIDE the region visiting the NEC/ICC (and I imagine they are included) I think we’d be some way from 33.5m (2011 figure, I think 2012 was higher). I don’t doubt that Birmingham has several million visitors each year, and the numbers may well be increasing as travel generally becomes easier and more affordable, but 550,000 per week visiting from outside the West Midlands is somewhat optimistic. Still, I imagine that if you saw the figures issued by Manchester, Glasgow etc they’d be every bit as implausible..

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