Britain’s hip new tourist destinations? Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Liverpool

Wednesday 7, July 2010


Britain’s hip new tourist destinations? Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Liverpool


Some of Britain’s largest industrial cities have become highly fashionable international tourist destinations, a surprising new survey reveals.



While London and Edinburgh are amply maintaining their traditional pre-eminence as the two most popular urban destinations in the UK, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow are emerging strongly as formidable rival attractions.


The transformation of the cities is highlighted by a new analysis of overnight stays by overseas visitors in UK cities between 2006 and 2009 by VisitBritain, the national tourism agency.


When researchers looked at all types of visits, London came out as the top destination for international tourists with an average of 15 million (1) overseas visitors staying in the city each year, followed in second place by Edinburgh with 1.3 million.


But Manchester, with its ultra-modern new landmark buildings such as the Lowry Centre, a cool art and culture scene, and world-class sport, is firmly in third place with about 900,000 visits, followed by Birmingham with its outstanding and hip arts and exhibitions on 737,000 and Glasgow famous for its style, culture, architecture, and design attracting a hefty 687,000 foreigners.


For purely holiday trips London again dominates with 6.6 million visits, with Edinburgh in second place on 771,000. But they are joined in the top five by two other cities, Scotland’s second city Glasgow, on 312,000 and Inverness, so close to the Highland scenery, on 180,000. 


The port city of Liverpool, European Capital of Culture in 2008, comes next in the holiday league table with an average of 162,000 foreign visitors staying over in each of the past four years.


The survey, published in the latest edition of “Foresight,” VisitBritain’s monthly commentary on the inbound tourism industry, asked a large sample of foreign visitors to Britain where they stayed overnight.


Apart from recording the rise of the industrial giants the analysis also offers insights into which towns and cities are most attractive to people of different nationalities. For example Germans make up the largest group of visitors to Southampton, Canterbury and Brighton and Hove.


While more Americans go to Bath than any other nationality, for Bristol and Plymouth the French are the largest market. The French and Irish vie for the top spot in Cardiff and Swansea. The French and the Americans tie for first place in Cambridge. Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle attract more visitors from Ireland than anywhere else.  


Shakespearean connections no doubt help to explain why the Americans are the top visitors to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Visitors from the USA are also the biggest market for the city of York, but Australians are close behind.


Patricia Yates, Strategy and Communications Director for VisitBritain said: “This survey confirms an astonishing transformation of our industrial heartlands has taken place. They have become dynamic, stylish international destinations that are increasingly beloved of foreign visitors. Manchester has become the home of Brit Cool, Birmingham wows people with its world class cultural scene, Liverpool pulsates as the home of the Beatles and Liverpool FC, and Glasgow with its unique architecture, countryside and coastal views has become Scotland’s style capital. They have become a joy for tourists to discover.”






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