• National tourism agency announces location of new Birmingham hub from April
  • West Midlands announced as second English pilot region for Destination Development Partnership (DDP) concept
  • English Tourism Week (15-24 March) to shine spotlight on West Midlands’ visitor economy sector

Victoria Square House in Birmingham will be the new hub for national tourism agency VisitBritain/VisitEngland.

The agency – which raises Britain’s profile worldwide as a visitor destination and develops England’s visitor economy – announced on Tuesday 12 March during a VisitEngland Advisory Board (VEAB) meeting, held at St Mary’s Guildhall in Coventry. It follows the news last July that VisitBritain/VisitEngland had selected Birmingham for its new hub office.

Victoria Square House will become VisitBritain/VisitEngland’s hub from April. The venue is located in the civic heart of Birmingham, close to New Street station, Bullring & Grand Central shopping centre, Birmingham Town Hall and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. VisitBritain/VisitEngland will operate its hub out of offices located in the Gambling Commission’s premises in Victoria Square House.

VisitBritain/VisitEngland picked the West Midlands for its new hub thanks to the region’s strong international and UK transport links, availability of local talent and the successful transition of other government departments and private sector companies to the area.

The West Midlands Growth Company, the region’s investment promotion and destination management agency, supported VisitBritain/VisitEngland throughout the competitive national process to select a new hub office in England.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

“VisitBritain/VisitEngland’s move to the West Midlands is a major vote of confidence in our region and comes at a time when visitor numbers here are at a record high.

“From more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere outside London to a feast of major sporting fixtures and festivals each and every weekend, the region’s tourism scene is a cornerstone of our economic offer, attracting visitors from around the world.

“We look forward to welcoming VisitBritain/VisitEngland to Birmingham’s Victoria Square House from April.”

In a further major boost for the West Midlands, it was also announced at the VEAB meeting that the region would become the second pilot for the country’s new Destination Development Partnership (DDP) model.

The West Midlands has been selected for the new nationwide scheme, which has been introduced following an independent review into tourism boards, known as Destination Management Organisations (DMOs), by Nick de Bois CBE.

The new West Midlands DDP – made up of the Birmingham, Solihull & Black Country Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) and Coventry & Warwickshire LVEP – will be a blueprint for the rest of England, delivering economy growth through the visitor economy across its local authorities.

The West Midlands DDP will focus on objectives such as tourism sector skills, sustainability and accessibility, levelling up, inward investment, business and major events, product development and data collection and analysis.

The West Midlands welcomed a record 141.2 million visitors in 2022, with tourist spend rising to a record £14.1 billion. The aim of the new partnership is to further cement the region as a must-visit destination, whilst also attracting private investment and driving growth.

Cllr Stephen Simkins, the WMCA’s Portfolio Lead for Economy & Innovation and Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said:

“The new Destination Development Partnership status awarded to the West Midlands by VisitEngland offers a valuable opportunity to further raise our profile across national and international markets.

“This is a proud moment for the West Midlands, as only the second region in the country to pilot this newly restructured approach to the tourism sector in England. It will allow us to develop our thriving visitor economy to develop and market the region and attract investment, create jobs and grow our existing, successful tourism businesses.” 

Patricia Yates, CEO, VisitBritain/VisitEngland, added:

“We are delighted to have secured office space in central Birmingham as we begin the transition to our new hub.

“We are excited about the opportunities and perspectives that having our hub in Birmingham will bring, alongside its excellent transport links for both our international and Britain based staff and access to a broad talent pool.

“Basing our hub office in Birmingham also brings us closer to our regional stakeholders across England including the West Midlands Growth Company. We are delighted that they have become a Destination Development Partnership pilot and will be working with them to drive the economic benefits from tourism across the nations and regions.”

Cllr Patrick Harley, the WMCA’s Portfolio Lead for Digital and Culture and Leader of Dudley Council, said:

“VisitEngland’s decision to make the West Midlands a pioneer for its new Destination Development Partnership model is welcome news. It will provide a major boost for the region’s prospects in attracting more tourists and further grow our tourism and cultural businesses.

“The West Midlands’ visitor economy is a success story, bouncing back quicker than national predictions post-Covid. With one in ten jobs in the West Midlands linked to tourism, this new status will ensure we can work in partnership across the region to attract new hotels and attractions, build on our cultural assets and create more opportunities for the people who live and want to build a career here.”

The announcements come ahead of English Tourism Week (15-24 March 2024), an annual celebration of the country’s diverse, exciting and vibrant visitor economy sector. The campaign, which this year has the strapline ‘supporting tourism, the heart of our community’, raises awareness – and the importance – of England’s tourism industry among stakeholders including MPs, ministers and the media, as well as domestic visitors.

During English Tourism Week, the 2024 West Midlands Tourism Awards (20 March) will crown the region’s top tourism businesses in 14 categories at Bear Grylls Adventure, located on the National Exhibition Centre campus in Solihull. For more information – and to buy tickets – visit www.makeitwm.com/wmta.

For more information about the West Midlands’ visitor offer, log on to visitbirmingham.com. To learn more about the opportunities available for businesses and investors in the West Midlands, visit investwestmidlands.com.