Birmingham’s visitor economy to hit all-time high in 2015

Figures show Birmingham’s annual visitor numbers and tourism revenue will be highest on record.

Birmingham is set to attract the highest number of visitors on record in 2015, with arrivals to the city expected to reach 38.1 million, and tourism revenue hitting an all-time high of £6.2 billion.

The preliminary figures were released today by Marketing Birmingham’s research arm the Regional Observatory and tourism research body Global Tourism Solutions (GTS), and incorporate forecast reports spanning until the end of 2015.

The figures surpass the previous 2014 record, which saw Birmingham’s tourist numbers and visitor economy grow at a faster rate than any other major UK regional city*. The count was boosted by Birmingham’s landmark Super September, which saw visitor numbers peak at four million throughout the month – and helped to attract half a million more visitors to the city this autumn compared to last year.

The city’s most significant month in a decade saw the completion of the £600 million redevelopment of New Street Station and the opening of the Grand Central shopping destination; along with two fixtures of the Rugby World Cup 2015 at Villa Park.

The 2015 STEAM report – 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, The Birmingham Weekender.

The STEAM report also revealed visitor spend is expected to increase from £5.9billion in 2014 to £6.2billion in 2015 – a rise of £245million, creating 859 more jobs in the city and surrounding region’s tourism sector.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: “2015 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 £1billion 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 – £300million more than the year before.

Andy Street, Chair of the GBSLEP, added: “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. I’m confident this year’s momentum will continue into 2016 and beyond, as more tourists come to experience what a vibrant, success story this area is becoming”.

Roxana Silbert, Creative Director of Birmingham Weekender, and Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre, said: “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.

“Birmingham has a year-round world class cultural offer with our theatre, music, dance and visual arts companies ranking as some of the best in Europe. It’s this kind of creativity that is inspiring many people to work, visit and travel to Birmingham.”

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. 2016 will include the return of the Conservative Party Conference, the 40th anniversary of the NEC and the International Dance Festival Birmingham. Next year also marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Birmingham and the surrounding regions will use this milestone to promote the Midlands’ connections with Shakespeare and his literary works.