The West Midlands visitor economy makes significant direct contributions to the regional economy through visitor spend. This spend creates demand for new and additional services that leads to the creation and growth of small businesses.
The West Midlands is rated as second only to London for major business exhibitions and events (NEC, ICC etc.) Business tourism brings £6 billion to the regional economy.
The region’s iconic cultural brands including the Royal Shakespeare Company, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Royal Ballet are internationally recognised and represent significant attractors to the region and to the UK.
The West Midlands is internationally known for its restaurants and local food festivals which increase the quality of the visitor experience.
• Advantage West Midlands established a Visitor Economy Strategy for the region and formed a strategic partnership board, Tourism West Midlands, to guide the implementation of the Strategy.
• The development of seven Destination Management Partnerships – subregional public/private partnerships focused on developing a high quality tourism offer at a destination level and responding to consumer driven needs through appropriate product development, skills and business support initiatives and a region wide marketing programme.
• The Regional Centre for Tourism Business Support delivered through Business Link West Midlands has assisted over 2,100 tourism businesses across the region.
• Advantage West Midlands has also funded or is funding a number of significant capital based initiatives, which make a direct or indirect contribution to the development of the region’s tourism offer – for example the redevelopment of the Belgrade Theatre (£4 million), Royal Shakespeare Theatre (£20 million), the RAF Cosford Cold War Exhibition (£4 million), Dudley Castle Hill and Zoo (£6 million), and World Class Stratford (£5 million).
Target Markets 2008 - 11
The cluster will focus on four key markets:
• Major conferences and exhibitions – maximising the potential of the region’s internationally significant conference venues, attracting visitors and showcasing the region to an international business audience.
• Culture – Utilising the region’s significant cultural strengths, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Birmingham Royal Ballet and maximising the potential of the diverse population to attract visitors to the region.
• Festivals & Events – Attracting major sporting and cultural events to the region, as well as supporting the promotion and development of sub-regional festivals which underpin the region’s leisure tourism offer.
• Food & Drink – establishing a high quality food and drink offer, building on the region’s distinctiveness.
In addition, through the Cultural Olympiad and the build up to the London 2012 Olympic Games there is a timely opportunity to showcase the cultural diversity of the West Midlands establishing a positive, vibrant, modern perception of the region.