The West Midlands has unveiled its Regional Tourism Strategy aimed at growing its visitor economy by more than £1bn and creating 19,000 jobs for the region, ranging from entry-level to managerial positions.
It is the UK's first Regional Tourism Strategy following the government’s Tourism Sector Deal, announced in July 2019, and aims to grow the sector from £12.6bn in 2018 to £13.7bn during the next decade.
The 10-year vision will be achieved by attracting more domestic and international visitors. It further identified North America, Germany, China and India as the key target markets for international visitors, which also aligns with the region’s inward investment activity.
The Regional Tourism Strategy also seeks to showcase to a wider audience upcoming world-renowned events, such as Coventry City of Culture 2021 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022.
“With major cultural and sporting events on the horizon, this is the perfect time to capitalise on the opportunities they will bring, and help the West Midlands to make its mark globally,” says Neil Rami, chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC).
Both leisure and business tourism are benchmarked in the strategy which hopes to attract more major conferences and events, as well as holidaymakers. “The West Midlands offers visitors a unique experience – from its diverse cultural offer and rich heritage, to the international conferences and events it hosts every year,” says Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain/VisitEngland.
The launch of the strategy follows a year of success for the West Midlands in which the region witnessed a 2.6% increase in the tourist numbers in 2018 - welcoming a historic 131 million visitors compared to 2017. Meanwhile, visitor spending rose by 6.7% to reach £12.6bn, according to Global Tourism Solutions and WMGC.
To further boost the West Midlands’ visitor economy, the Regional Tourism Strategy outlines a range of objectives such as creating a regional tourism board, hosting Regional Tourism Awards, and setting up a Regional Bidding Partnership Unit to help local organisations.
Fiona Allan, artistic director and chief executive of Birmingham Hippodrome, comments: “The development of the Regional Tourism Strategy has relied on the public and private sectors collaborating closely. I look forward to working with partners in the tourism industry to achieve our aspirations.”
The West Midland received a record high number of greenfield foreign investment projects last year, numbered at 41, according to fDi Markets, an FT database that tracks greenfield investment.