The city, together with Manchester, is a new entry in the international shortlist, replacing German cities Munich and Berlin. It follows a study by Egencia into how the booking trends of its European client base have changed over the last five years.
Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services at Marketing Birmingham – which operates the city’s official business tourism programme Meet Birmingham – said:
“Birmingham’s ability to attract visitors and businesses from across the globe has improved significantly in the past five years. Upgrades to its transport infrastructure – led by Birmingham Airport’s runway extension – and the growth of its hotel industry are enabling Birmingham to welcome more people than ever before.
“The city’s increasing reputation as a business travel destination is helping to boost the wider economy as well. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area secured more foreign investment projects than any other English region last year. The West Midlands is second only to the South East for the value of its exports.
"With major schemes such as New Street station due to complete in 2015, and the construction of HS2 on the horizon, I expect Birmingham will continue to be recognised as an accessible, welcoming location for business travellers around the world.”
Birmingham had an increase of nearly 230,000 (32%) in the number of international visits in 2013 – the strongest growth in the UK – adding to record visitor numbers of 34 million. The city retained its status as the most popular conference and event destination in the UK outside London last year, according to the sixth annual British Meetings & Events Industry Survey 2014/15 (BMEIS).
Egencia’s findings reflect Birmingham’s growth as an international business destination, with visitor numbers and spend expected to increase in 2015 as major projects in the city near completion. Highlights this year include the launch of the £600million redevelopment of New Street Station, plus the openings of high end retail development Grand Central – including a flagship John Lewis store – and the UK’s first integrated destination leisure complex, Resorts World Birmingham, including the Vox Conference Centre managed by the ICC Birmingham team.
James Elston, Sales Director for the Vox and the ICC, said: “The Vox is really starting to take shape and we are really looking forward to seeing the state-of-the-art facilities come to life as the development progresses. The Vox is a unique offering to the market providing an end-to-end delegate experience in first class surroundings.”
Birmingham was also recently selected as one of the 10 most exciting destinations to visit in 2015, in a list compiled by influential travel guidebook Rough Guides.