Birmingham, UK, emerges as a favourite destination for international visitors

Birmingham, UK, attracted more international visits last year than ever before, the airport said citing the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

According to the ONS report, there were almost one million visits to the city last year (941,000) – an increase of 228,000 on the 713,000 registered in 2012. With an increase of 32 percent in the last year alone, Birmingham surpassed the national growth of international visits, which stood at 5.6 percent, as well as that of London, which was at 8.6 percent.

Birmingham is the fourth most visited city in the UK, with the capitals London and Edinburgh leading the table, followed by Manchester. The city has been focusing on attracting key international visitor markets, including from India and China.

Emma Gray, director of Marketing, Marketing Birmingham, the city’s strategic marketing partnership, which operates leisure and business tourism programmes, Visit and Meet Birmingham, said: ‘Traditionally we’ve been known as a national destination with visitors coming from across the UK for our shopping, food and attractions. This is now widening and Birmingham is on the international map.

‘Working with the Airport as well as Visit Britain we have focused on raising the city’s profile with international travellers, both business and leisure. Top attractions last year such as the Black Country Living Museum, the new Library of Birmingham and the 50 festivals that took place within the city all attracted overseas visitors.’

Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s chief executive and chairman of Marketing Birmingham, said: ‘These figures are testament to the partnerships in place to promote the city both in the UK and overseas and validates that Birmingham has become a world-class tourist destination.

‘The Airport broke the nine million passengers mark last year for the first time since 2009, launched several new routes including Amritsar, Bordeaux, Knock, Stockholm and Barcelona, and saw growth on existing routes such as Dublin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, New York, Dubai, Knock and Istanbul; all key departure points for inbound tourists.’

The boost in Birmingham’s profile has also attracted significant investment, with foreign direct investment in 2012/13 up by more than 50 percent against a national increase of only 11 percent. This has generated an additional 4,000 local jobs and is worth an estimated GBP174 million to the local economy per year.

Emma Gray added, ‘Our strategy remains to target the international market, to continue to work with the airport and to promote Birmingham and its surrounding area to an international audience keen to visit as both a business, as well as leisure traveller.’