Birmingham tourist sector booms as hotel records broken

Birmingham sees greatest improvement in visitors’ perceptions of all UK cities.

Birmingham’s hotel sector has seen its most successful year in history, with occupancy rates for 2016 peaking at 99% capacity and averaging at 75% – both, the highest on record.

The figures released today by Marketing Birmingham’s Regional Observatory, are backed by further evidence of unprecedented growth in the region’s visitor economy. The data reveals both the proportion of international visitors and overnight visitors to the city have doubled in the last three years, bolstering Birmingham’s standing as a global tourist destination.

Overnight guests now account for 45% of all visitors, compared to 21% in 2013. Whilst the proportion of international visitors has grown from 6% to 12%, respectively, with the most visitors travelling from European countries such as France and the Netherlands, as well as from the US.

Additionally, the proportion of leisure visitors to the city has also increased – from 45% in 2013 to 76% in 2016; demonstrating a significant shift in the type of visitors the city is drawing. The Birmingham Perception Survey 2016 released today – a report that looks at consumer perception trends over time – confirms a step change in the city’s reputation as a tourist destination. Birmingham has witnessed the greatest improvement in perceptions of all major UK cities, with a growth of 23 percentage points in the last 12 months.

Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive Officer at Birmingham Airport and Chairman of Marketing Birmingham, said: “Birmingham has become one of the great cultural powerhouses of Europe; this is an exciting time and proud moment for our city. International visitors are at a record high, as is domestic tourism – whilst both Birmingham Airport and the city’s hotel sector are currently celebrating their most successful year in history.

“This is the outcome of a flourishing leisure offer, a concerted effort to ensure Birmingham’s connectivity is world-class, and leveraging crucial public and private partnerships across the city. With Birmingham Airport planning to invest £100 million before the summer in enhancing its facilities, and working with Marketing Birmingham to cement our city on the global map, I’m confident Birmingham will continue to smash records.”

Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “These figures speak for themselves and demonstrate that Birmingham is consistently being seen across the world as a great place to visit, both for leisure tourism and business. Tourism is a major driver of the local economy. By enhancing our leisure offer, bidding for major events through the Birmingham Convention Bureau, and investing in world-class infrastructure as demonstrated by the redeveloped New Street Station – we help to create a sustainable future for our city.

“Most importantly, the visitor economy fuels employment opportunities for the people of Birmingham, and makes the city better placed to attract major businesses and investors to the region, creating inclusive economic growth and jobs for all citizens.”

Visitor expenditure has contributed significantly to the local economy; with £82 spend per head in 2016, up by a third on the figure of £61 recorded in 2013. Events contributing to Birmingham’s upsurge in tourists and visitor spend last year, included: Edgbaston Stadium’s cricket fixtures (£17.7 million); the Birmingham and Solihull Jazz and Blues Festival (£6.2 million); the Conservative Party Conference (£18.4 million) and the Frankfurt Christmas Market – which generated the highest amount of spend on record, at £400 million.

Revenue per available room – the performance metric used to evaluate a hotel’s performance – averaged at £50 in 2016; the highest figure Birmingham has ever recorded. The average room rate for the year was £67, £5 up on 2015 and a £9 increase on 2014. The busiest day of the year for hotels was April 12th.

Emma Eastwood, revenue manager at Hotel Indigo Birmingham, added: “It’s fantastic to see Birmingham thriving as a tourist destination, and we’re delighted to be at the heart of that as a city centre hotel. We’ve just finished our most successful year on record, and with a continuing increase in both overnight and international visits to the city, we’re already excited for what 2017 will bring.”

2016 also saw Birmingham announce its intention to officially enter the race to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026; which has the potential to generate in excess of £390 million GVA for the local economy, creating thousands of jobs.

David Massingham, DanceXchange’s Artistic Director and Co-Artistic Director of the International Dance Festival Birmingham 2016, added: “Birmingham is a young and surprising city which is great for the International Dance Festival Birmingham, as we spearhead a fresh engagement with the public through innovative performances in the streets and theatres. Our festival can be bold because Birmingham is willing to break new ground and be different!”

Upcoming events in 2017 include five fixtures of the ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston Stadium (2nd–15th June); The Big Sleuth (July–September) – a mass public art event organised by Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital and Wild in Art; the production of Billy Elliot at the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre (7th March–29th April); the Colmore Food Festival (30th June–1st July) and the Birmingham Weekender – the city’s largest outdoor festival (22nd– 24th September).