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Record visitors boost Birmingham's tourism economy

City welcomes all-time high as international cricket and Conservative Party Conference among events which underpin record 2016

International cricket at Edgbaston boosted Birmingham's tourism economy in 2016

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

The number of full-time jobs supported by the sector now stands at 70,365.

The figures have been released by Marketing Birmingham's research arm the Regional Observatory and tourism research body Global Tourism Solutions.

Visitor numbers represent a 2.5 per cent increase on the figures achieved for 2015 - a year in which there was more than £1 billion worth of investment in the city centre alone and saw the opening of Grand Central and the Rugby World Cup come to town.

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The region has attracted increasing numbers of tourists from key target markets including India, the US and the Netherlands with visitors from China generating the highest amount of expenditure per head.

Events contributing to Birmingham's upsurge in tourists and visitor spending last year included cricket at Edgbaston Stadium (£17.7 million), Birmingham and Solihull Jazz and Blues Festival (£6.2 million) and the Conservative Party Conference at the ICC (£18.4 million).

Last year was also the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's legacy, with tribute shows hosted by the REP and Hippodrome theatres and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The figures also demonstrated 2016 to be the most successful year in history for Birmingham's hotels, with occupancy rates for 2016 peaking at 99 per cent capacity and averaging at 75 per cent.

Birmingham City Council leader Coun John Clancy 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."

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."

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