Heritage is ‘vital’ to the West Midlands economy

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

Heritage is ‘vital’ to the West Midlands economy

Heritage is vital to the economic prosperity of the West Midlands’ according to a new report published today by Historic England.

The report, which was conducted on behalf of the West Midlands Historic Environment Forum, says that heritage is an important source of employment and draws millions of visitors to the region each year.

The West Midlands’ unique collection of historic buildings provides premises for businesses as well as homes for residents.

The repair and maintenance of these historic buildings alone creates £602m in construction output for the West Midlands.

The latest statistical data has been collected and analysed for Historic England and is published today in Heritage Counts: ‘Heritage and the Economy 2017’.

It shows that heritage in the West Midlands contributed £977.5m in gross value added (GVA) - equivalent to 1.5% of total GVA in the West Midlands.

Heritage tourism in the region generated over £1.5 billion in spending by both domestic and international visitors and over 17,000 people are directly employed in the heritage sector.

Adala Leeson, head of social and economic research at Historic England, said: “The West Midlands’ historic environment provides jobs, attracts tourists and contributes to the construction sector and gross value added to the region.

“It’s intrinsically linked not only to the region’s economic prosperity but to the country as a whole.

“Our new report shows the value that heritage brings to the West Midlands. It’s not just about money. We are growing the ways in which we can measure the social benefits that heritage brings through the sense of identity and belonging that it gives communities.

“We have also calculated that volunteers dedicate £520m in the hours they give towards day-to-day protection of our built heritage.”

England’s history and heritage are a big draw for tourism and, nationally, generated £16.4 billion in visitor spending in 2015.

Heritage is a key part of the UK ‘brand’, and, in recent research, the country was ranked 5th out of 50 nations in terms of its historic buildings and monuments. 

Heritage tourism has been growing and is forecasted to grow even further in the future.

It also benefits the wider local economy as well - for every £1 spent as part of a heritage visit, 32p is spent on site and the remaining 68p in local restaurants, cafes, hotels and shops.

Historic buildings also act as premises for 138,000 businesses representing 5% of all employment in the UK.