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Record visitor numbers see Birmingham take lead as UK’s fastest growing regional tourist destination

Birmingham attracted a record 37.2million visitors last year, an increase of almost 10% and more than any other regional UK city. The city’s visitor economy is now worth a staggering £5.98 billion having grown by half a billion in just one year. This growth has resulted in the creation of nearly 5,000 local jobs and further boosted Birmingham’s drive to become a leading global tourism and business destination. The figures were released today by Marketing Birmingham’s research arm the Regional Observatory and tourism research body, Global Tourism Solutions (GTS).

The STEAM report, produced annually by GTS to assess the economic impact of visitors to the UK’s major cities, revealed that since 2013, the number of people visiting Birmingham rose by 9.4% to 37.2 million.

Birmingham’s visitor numbers, their economic impact and the number of jobs created by the tourism sector grew at a higher rate than a range of its UK competitors including Edinburgh, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff, Swansea and Aberdeen. Birmingham saw the economic impact of its visitor numbers rise by 9.4% and their economic impact by 12% - more than 6% ahead of the others on both counts. Continued investment in the city’s infrastructure, connectivity and its renaissance as a retail, cultural and ‘foodie’ hub are being viewed as key to its growing appeal.

Paul Kehoe, Chairman of Marketing Birmingham said: "Birmingham is now the UK’s fastest growing tourism destination with multi-million pound investments in our infrastructure, connectivity and visitor offering combining to bring record numbers to the city.

“New air routes to China and New York, major events including the Frankfurt Christmas Markets and the Conservative Party Conference and a growing retail and independent culture offering saw millions travel to Birmingham and boost our status as a global destination.

"Looking ahead, this year will see the £150 million Resorts World leisure destination reach completion - adding to the recent £600 million New Street Station redevelopment and brand new £150 million Grand Central retail complex. It is clear that Birmingham’s place as the UK’s most connected regional city with a leading retail offering is secure. Add this to our growing culture, arts, food and hospitality offering, and it becomes obvious why Birmingham is regularly on the must visit lists of global and national visitors.”

Building on Birmingham’s international success, the wider Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) area attracted more than 88 million visitors in 2014, resulting in an overall visitor economy worth £8.9 billion. The partnership works with residents and local companies to promote the area globally to businesses, tourists and media.  

Andy Street, Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) said:   "These results demonstrate the unique and growing appeal that Greater Birmingham has, and the potential we have to build on it even further. In the last few years, much work has gone in to defining and promoting what this region can offer visitors and businesses that is different and unique amongst its competitors. These results show that we are getting it right and that this part of the world has something truly unique – in our people, our talent, our culture, and our connectivity- to offer.

“There is a buzz and energy about Greater Birmingham that is attracting more people, who are keen to see and be part of a place that is bounding forward. The feeling of excitement here is contagious and with more investment, innovation and ideas being put in place, we expect this region to continue to become a truly global destination."

Gail Webb, Marketing Director at The Belfry, said: “The increasing appeal in the Birmingham region is greatly benefiting the local economy and particularly its growing hotel scene. The Belfry Hotel & Resort strives to provide excellence across all its facilities to ensure that visitors have a memorable experience and encourage them to return again and again.

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