The most prominent tourist attractions from the Midlands came together, in conjunction with Visit England, to host a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons to raise awareness of a successful year for Midlands tourism.
The event was led by Heart of England Attractions Group (HoEA Group) which spans private, public and charitable attractions including West Midland Safari Park, Birmingham Museums and Drayton Manor Theme Park. The reception highlighted to high-profile delegates including several members of parliament the wide range of tourist activities the region has to offer.
HoEA Group’s attractions benefit the whole region by bringing in 9.3 million visitors every year and contributing £1.2 billion to the national economy. Tourism and leisure account for 7% of the economy of the West Midlands and is the third largest sector in terms of business numbers; with more than 20,000 companies and a workforce of more than 200,000.
Ivan Knezovich, Managing Director of West Midland Safari Park and Chairman of the HoEA Group, commented, “The Heart of England Attractions Group was formed in 2002 as a means to promote our highly successful and creative industry, which brings 9.3 million visitors to the West Midlands region annually. It is very important for us a group to engage with MPs, so we can showcase our success and update them on we collectively do, to benefit the region economically.”
The UK’s leisure tourism market has remained buoyant through 2016-17, with promising growth prospects for the future, despite the air of uncertainty following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The latest trend of favouring ‘staycations’ to overseas holidays has seen an increase in domestic tourism within in the UK as well as a 14% increase in foreign tourism to the region. The West Midlands has become one of the UK’s most attractive and fastest growing visitor destinations, with a growth in domestic staying visits and associated expenditure over the last year that by far outstrips national trends.
Tim Manson, Operations & Policy Director at Marketing Birmingham, said, “Tourism is a vital sector of the UK and for the West Midlands’ economy; it’s our region’s third largest sector. It has huge potential for boosting economic growth and this event highlights how important the sector is to creating jobs and attracting visitors to the region.
“The Heart of England Attractions Group is working together to ensure the West Midlands is a competitive region for domestic and foreign tourism. 2016 saw strong growth in visitor numbers to the area and the HoEA Group’s objective is to maintain and exceed this level of success.”