More Visitors Go to Birmingham

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Last year Birmingham attracted an extra 400,000 visitors over 2008. In all 32.6 million people visited the city in 2009 or virtually half the population of the entire UK. During last May, out of the whole of Europe, it experienced the greatest growth in those people staying in hotels.
Why? What is the great appeal of Birmingham? Can it be down to the exhibitions/shows put on at the NEC?
Birmingham is conveniently situated for road and rail travel. An airport also allows easy access to the NEC and the connecting rail link brings people into the centre quickly. (about 10-15 minutes) Therefore Birmingham can attract the conference market and it is strongly promoting itself as a global events city. That wouldn’t account for the millions of leisure visits to the city.
If you haven’t been to a Birmingham for fifteen years or so then it has changed a lot. The jewellery quarter has been turned into a mixture of chic restaurants, canalside walks and modern flats. The local council is considering suggesting it as a World Heritage Site. The Arena has become one of the top concert attractions in the country and Birmingham flaunts its cultural benefits. It is in the running for the first award of British City of Culture in 2013. If you travel on the underground in London, you will see poster after poster by the escalators trumpeting that Birmingham is shortlisted for this award. They have already decided on events that will take place that year and, if they don’t win, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them went ahead anyway. A 4 day festival called Global Asian Fusion is planned celebrating contemporary Asian music not just British Asian music but Asian style music from all around the world. Waters Edge would be a festival along the canals so that you can see a different part of the city complete with events on canal barges. There’ll be an autumn festival over 8 weekends, a summer exhibition of impressionist paintings and a new gallery at The Thinktank about Birmingham’s manufacturing past.
There’s a greater confidence about Birmingham. The cosmopolitan make-up of the population has lead to a large restaurant scene with Asian food having been transformed into British Asian cuisine. The run-down areas have been revitalised with shopping areas and housing. And that confidence means that Birmingham are happy to trumpet the tourism appeal rather than the approach of 40 years or so ago when you had to think long and hard as to why you should go there.

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