Birmingham Canal

Birmingham Canal

Record high for Birmingham’s visitor economy

Birmingham welcomed its highest ever number of visitors on record in 2016, with tourist numbers reaching 39 million and tourism revenue hitting an all-time high of £6.5bn.

The latest figures released by Marketing Birmingham’s research arm the Regional Observatory and tourism research body Global Tourism Solutions (GTS) show that 2016 was another record year for Birmingham's booming tourism industry.

Visitor numbers grew by 2.5% on the figures achieved for 2015 – marking a landmark year for UK's second city.

This was driven by increasing numbers of tourists from key target markets including India, the US and the Netherlands.

Visitors from China – another priority market for the city - generated the highest amount of expenditure per head.

Cllr John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham’s record visitor figures are ample proof of the growing appeal of its vibrant arts and culture scene, superb restaurants and unbeatable retail offer.

"More than ever before, the public and private sectors are pulling together to attract investment into Birmingham, with the aim of diversifying and building on the region’s existing compelling offer.

“The city continues to attract visitors from across the globe, and this in turn is boosting both the Birmingham and regional economy, creating employment opportunities for local people.”

Events contributing to Birmingham’s upsurge in tourists and visitor spend last year, included: Edgbaston Stadium’s cricket fixtures (£17.7m); the Birmingham and Solihull Jazz and Blues Festival (£6.2m) and the Conservative Party Conference (£18.4m).

Key exhibitions included the BBC Good Food Show and Grand Designs Live - both at the NEC, and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) congress at the ICC. 2016 also marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s legacy, with tribute shows hosted by Birmingham’s Repertory and Hippodrome Theatres and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, added: “Both domestic and international tourism peaked at a record high in 2016.

"The strength of Birmingham’s visitor economy is not only boosting the city’s reputation as a leisure destination across the globe, it is also attracting further investment into the city’s transport routes and infrastructure.

“The combination of both a flourishing leisure offer and burgeoning physical landscape, has confirmed Birmingham as the number one ranking English city outside the capital for its quality of life.”

The figures, released by Marketing Birmingham’s Regional Observatory, also demonstrated 2016 to be the most successful year in history for Birmingham’s hotels, with occupancy rates for 2016 peaking at 99% capacity and averaging at 75%.

The local market is currently experiencing significant development activity, with 15 hotels at various stages of planning or construction, including a new Holiday Inn Express set to open this month and the Grand Hotel (2018). The largest hotel to open in the city in 2016 was Park Regis Birmingham, with 253 rooms and two new restaurants.