Shopping Centres, Westfield & Tourism

By | Category: Travel rumblings

I don’t like shopping.
Millions do and one of the top listed things for people to do when they travel is to go shopping. Look at the numbers that used to go to New York in the early winter to take advantage of the weak dollar to Christmas shop. Look at the success of Christmas markets up and down the country. (Birmingham is said to have the largest German Christmas market outside Germany)
But its not only for Christmas. When a big shopping centre opens, when outlet stores or out-of-town areas come together like those in Bicester in Oxfordshire or Blakemere in Cheshire, people visit. Contrary to my belief that shopping is hard work a lot of people love it. It becomes a tourist attraction in its own right.
The opening today of Europe’s largest urban shopping centre, the Westfield Centre which covers 45acres and has 265 shops in Shepherd’s Bush in West London will probably become an attraction in its own right like the Metrocentre, Meadowhall, Bluewater and the Merry Centre.
What may be slightly different about this one is potentially the number of overseas visitors who may go there. On one of the TV channels this morning, a spokesman for the British Retail Federation said 200 million visits are made to Britain, most via London and they are hoping for tourists to be part of the 20 million people who are expected to visit it every year. Two new rail stations, an overground one at Shepherds Bush will contact Milton Keynes and East Croydon with the centre and an underground one at Wood Lane. Some £170-£200 million (depending on which newspaper, TV station or website you read) has been spent on improving public transport.
And the publicity has been overseas as well. Westfield, the company, was started by the wealthiest Australian, Frank Lowy, so the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age have both carried stories. There have been stories about it in France, Ireland, Canada and the USA so the tourists might come now that the pound is so cheap against some currencies. Well apart from the Aussie dollar
This year there have been a number of shopping centres opened, Bristol and Liverpool spring to mind. They have done well. We know that in times of a downturn chocolate and holidays play their part in boosting confidence. It looks like shopping does too. And shopping can be part of tourism

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