Tourism minister hails buoyant Birmingham

Birmingham welcomed almost 42 million visitors in 2017 – up 7% on 2016 and reaching a new record.

Meanwhile, visitor spending reached £7.1 billion – an increase of 9% year-on-year, according to new figures unveiled by the West Midlands Growth Company and research body Global Tourism Solutions (GTS).

Average hotel occupancy was 75%, matching the previous record set in 2016, while revenue per available room was £51, another record level.

The success is attributed to major events such as the Natwest T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston Stadium and the city’s largest outdoor festival, the Birmingham Weekender, which both took place in September 2017.

The region’s literary heritage was celebrated as 2017 marked the 80th anniversary of JRR Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel The Hobbit.

The heritage sub-sector saw the greatest increase in visitor numbers, up 12% on 2016, according to the figures.

The release of the figures coincided with a visit by tourism minister Michael Ellis (pictured), who saw how the Discover England Fund is supporting the ‘England’s Waterways’ project.

Led by the West Midlands Growth Company, the project aims to inspire overseas visitors to explore the canal networks of Birmingham and the wider Midlands region.

The minister said: “Birmingham is one the UK’s leading destinations, with excellent attractions, nightlife and hospitality. Following the hugely successful Commonwealth Games handover and the arrival of Dippy the Diplodocus, this positive tourism trend looks set to continue well into the future.”

Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “Tourism is a major part of the Birmingham economy, supporting thousands of jobs, and these outstanding figures underline the fact that this city is now a major tourist destination, with a growing profile on the global stage.

“Increasing numbers of visitors come to Birmingham every year and many return time and time again, thanks to our arts and culture, our fantastic food, our sporting offer and because they know they are guaranteed a warm welcome.”