The recent announcement by Marketing Birmingham of increased visitor numbers in 2011 is fantastic news but as a resident of Birmingham and a visitor to many other cities I instinctively feel that Birmingham has not quite got it right yet. I often struggle to find something to offer to visitors on a wet Sunday afternoon so I decided to take a deeper look at the figures The promotional opportunities afforded by Usain Bolt’s positive comments on Birmingham must give the city hope but is it sustainable.
I have already posted on Birmingham’s failure to capture as many international visitors as Manchester
These figures show a similar if more worrying trend for overnight domestic visitors with Manchester’s visitor numbers growing by over 4% compared to a 3.2% fall for Birmingham. Looking at figures for all the Core Cities (excluding Birmingham); they have shown over the same period an increase of 6.6%
So this means that whilst visitors increased their expenditure in Manchester by 2.9% expenditure fell in Birmingham by 11.6%.
So what is going on. The figures published by Marketing Birmingham are focussed on overall visitor numbers and the overnight domestic and international visitors are swamped by day visitors. Figures shared with me by Marketing Birmingham from the STEAM model show that between 2010 and 2011 Birmingham has done well in increasing its number of day visitors. These rose by 643,000 between 2010 and 2011. But their figures also show an increase in overnight visitors of 3% over this period. Why the discrepancy? I can only put this down to the Visit Britain and the IPS figures being averages over a number of years whereas the Marketing Birmingham figures are yearly figures. The former show longer term trends. Interestingly figures drawn from the STEAM model also show that visitor expenditure in Birmingham rose between 2010 and 2011 in Birmingham but less fast than the overall UK growth and growth in many of the core cities.
So the underlying message seems to be Birmingham is good at attracting day visitors through key events like Artsfest, Foodfest and the Frankfurt Christmas market but not as good as Manchester and elsewhere in attracting the higher spending overnight visitors. Something for the City Council, Marketing Birmingham and the Local Enterprise Partnership to ponder. I will be posting my thoughts in a week or so on the reasons for this.