business

Rugby World Cup helps Birmingham welcome record visitor numbers

Key events particularly during 'Super September' mean visitor economy has hit new highs in terms of people coming to Birmingham and business revenues

Birmingham's Christmas Market, complete with ice rink in Centenary Square, is now a firm fixture in the city's tourism offer

The opening of Grand Central and the Rugby World Cup helped Birmingham to a record number of visitors this year.

Arrivals to the city are expected to reach 38.1 million and tourism revenue hitting an all-time high of £6.2 billion during 2015.

The figures surpass the previous 2014 record which saw Birmingham's tourist numbers and visitor economy grow at a faster rate than any other major UK regional city.

The preliminary figures have been released by Marketing Birmingham's research arm the Regional Observatory and tourism research body Global Tourism Solutions (GTS) and incorporate forecast reports spanning until the end of 2015.

Visitors numbers were boosted heavily this year in 'Super September' during which they hit a peak of four million, helping to attract 500,000 more visitors to the city this autumn compared with 2014.

The city played host to two matches at the Rugby World Cup, held the Birmingham Weekender festival of arts and saw the opening of both New Street station and the Grand Central shopping centre.

The 2015 STEAM report - produced annually to assess the economic impact of visitors to the UK's major cities - also highlighted the growing appeal of Birmingham's festival offering which helped draw record numbers of visitors to the city.

This year's calendar of more than 50 events included the city's biggest charity art exhibition The Big Hoot and the tenth Moseley Folk Festival.

The report also revealed that visitor spend is expected to increase from £5.9 billion in 2014 to £6.2 billion in 2015, creating 859 more jobs in the city and surrounding region's tourism sector.

Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: "2015 marked an important milestone for Birmingham and the surrounding region.

"These record visitor figures are proof of the city's rapidly growing profile domestically and across the world and demonstrate that our collaborative approach has been a resounding success."

The same success in tourism is reflected across the wider region. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership area is predicted to attract an additional 1.2 million visitors in 2015, resulting in an overall visitor economy worth £8.1 billion - £300 million more than the year before.

Andy Street, chairman of the partnership, added: "These figures are a further example of greater Birmingham's significant contribution to the growth of Britain's economy.

"The area's world-class culture, enterprise and innovation is attracting visitors and investment from across the globe, creating employment opportunities and driving forward its reputation as a powerful gateway to the UK and Europe.

"Perceptions of greater Birmingham as a leading tourist destination continue to rise, with visitor numbers and revenue standing at an all-time high."

View full mobile page