The launch of the Regional Tourism Strategy follows a year of success for the West Midlands. The region attracted a record 131 million visitors in 2018, a 2.6% increase on the previous year. Visitor spend rose by 6.7% to reach £12.6 billion. Meanwhile, hotel monthly average occupancy rates reached an all-time high of 74.8%.*
Our region is deeply immersed in the planning and programming for two major events – Coventry City of Culture 2021, and Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, readiness for which we, as a tourism industry, are already planning and delivering.
We have our first trade mission to Australia this month, led by Birmingham Airport in conjunction with World Routes and VisitBritain, which will highlight some of the itineraries and bookable products that we have been working on with industry partners over the past two years. The travel trade industry needs a two-year lead-in time to feature new products and set up new relationships to bring their clients to the region. There is no time to lose!
The Regional Tourism Strategy seeks to deliver this and one of its aims is to grow our tourism economy by £1 billion over the next 10 years. This growth will be achieved by attracting more overnight-staying domestic and international visitors, generating an estimated rise in spend of £1.1 billion and creating a further 19,000 jobs for the region.
In the short term, this focuses on the collective activity we need to undertake to maximise the opportunities from the City of Culture and Commonwealth Games. This is the West Midlands’ chance to shine. Our chance to reposition the region and raise awareness of our strengths in both business and leisure tourism.
The Regional Tourism Strategy has engaged with over 200 businesses and stakeholders in its development, to shape what you want us to deliver, and what you can offer. We can only make the biggest success of the events and their legacy through collaboration.
The Strategy outlines a range of objectives that will help to grow the West Midlands’ visitor economy, which includes:
- The creation of a regional tourism board, supported by the West Midlands Growth Company
- Continuing to raise awareness of the region for business and leisure, to UK and international audiences though sales, marketing and communications activity
- Setting up a Regional Bidding Partnership Unit to help local organisations join forces when bidding to host major events and conferences
- Hosting a regional Tourism Awards to celebrate and promote success stories from the West Midlands. The inaugural Awards are open for entries, with the winners then showcased nationally by being automatically shortlisted for VisitEngland’s National Awards for Excellence
- A joint regional bid for one of the Government’s new Tourism Zones, which aims to drive visitor numbers across the country, extend the season and tackle local barriers to tourism growth
We have a toolkit and a number of marketing assets so that we can talk about the region in a coherent and engaging way. We have work streams that pick up the importance of different segments of the market to different areas of the region. We will coordinate bids for funding, events and conferences with relevant partners. We will talk about you to international audiences, supporting your bookings and messaging.
But, we can’t deliver this success without each of our partners. We look forward to working with you to grow this Strategy and region to its highest potential.
Acting Head of Visitor Attraction
* Data by research body Global Tourism Solutions and the West Midlands Growth Company