Sec­ond city wel­comed 42m vis­i­tors last year

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Tam­lyn Jones Busi­ness Cor­re­spon­dent

BIRM­ING­HAM tourism saw its most suc­cess­ful year in his­tory with ho­tel rev­enue, vis­i­tors num­bers and spend­ing hit­ting record highs in 2017, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

The fig­ures re­vealed that Birm­ing­ham wel­comed 41.8 mil­lion vis­i­tors in 2017, with sub­se­quent visi­tor spend reach­ing £7.1 bil­lion – an in­crease of more than nine per cent in the space of a year.

Av­er­age ho­tel oc­cu­pancy stood at 75 per cent, match­ing the pre­vi­ous record set in 2016, while rev­enue per avail­able room was £51 in value, the high­est fig­ure ever recorded.

The re­port has been pro­duced by in­ward in­vest­ment body the West Mid­lands Growth Compa- ny and re­search firm Global Tourism So­lu­tions. Birm­ing­ham wel­comed the most tourists dur­ing Septem­ber, a month that in­cluded the Natwest T20 Fi­nals Day at Edg­bas­ton Sta­dium and the city’s largest out­door arts fes­ti­val Birm­ing­ham Week­ender.

The re­gion’s lit­er­ary her­itage was cel­e­brated as 2017 marked the 80th an­niver­sary of JRR Tolkien’s clas­sic fan­tasy novel The Hob­bit. Her­itage was also the sec­tor to see the great­est in­crease in visi­tor num­bers, up 12 per cent on 2016.

The num­ber of full-time equiv­a­lent jobs sup­ported by the visi­tor econ­omy has risen by 7.2 per cent since 2016, from 70,635 to 75,748.

Coun­cil­lor Ian Ward, leader of Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil, said: “Tourism is a ma­jor part of the Birm­ing­ham econ­omy, sup­port- ing thou­sands of jobs, and th­ese out­stand­ing fig­ures un­der­line the fact this city is now a ma­jor tourist des­ti­na­tion, with a grow­ing pro­file on the global stage.

“Increasing num­bers of vis­i­tors come to Birm­ing­ham ev­ery year and many re­turn time and time again, thanks to our arts and cul­ture, our fan­tas­tic food, our sport­ing of­fer and be­cause they know they are guar­an­teed a warm wel­come.”

The an­nounce­ment of the lat­est fig­ures co­in­cides with a visit to the re­gion from Michael El­lis, min­is­ter for arts, her­itage and tourism.

His visit marked the ar­rival of a prom­i­nent new tourism project to the area called Eng­land’s Wa­ter­ways, sup­ported by the Dis­cover Eng­land Fund.

The project, led by the West Mid­lands Growth Com­pany, is aim­ing to in­spire in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors to ex­plore the canal net­works and sur­round­ing cul­tural of­fer through­out Birm­ing­ham and the wider Mid­lands re­gion.

Mr El­lis added: “Birm­ing­ham is one the UK’s lead­ing des­ti­na­tions, with ex­cel­lent at­trac­tions, nightlife and hos­pi­tal­ity.

“Fol­low­ing the hugely suc­cess­ful Com­mon­wealth Games han­dover and the ar­rival of Dippy the Diplodocus, this pos­i­tive tourism trend looks set to con­tinue well into the fu­ture.

“The wider Mid­lands re­gion boasts a charm­ing canal net­work sur­rounded by vi­brant green spa­ces and unique her­itage at­trac­tions.

“We are pleased to be help­ing to at­tract even more peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence th­ese pic­turesque wa­ter­ways through our Dis­cover Eng­land Fund.”

> Birm­ing­ham wel­comed the most tourists in Septem­ber, dur­ing the Natwest T20 Fi­nals Day and arts fes­ti­val Birm­ing­ham Week­ender, above

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