Has anyone walked through the city centre recently and actually looked up? An ever changing skyline now dominates the horizon.
And it’s not just us Mancunians who are recognising the change – the city’s ongoing renaissance has created an international perception of a world class city for both leisure and business visitors alike. Sound like something the Tourist Board would have us believe? . . well it’s true.
The greater Manchester region now has a wealth of iconic buildings, to match those left by our forefathers.In this, the 21st century, Urbis, The Bridgewater Hall, The Lowry, Manchester International Convention Centre and Imperial War museum are examples in the public sector, which have set a standard of quality and design echoed in residential flat developments like No 1 Deansgate, and commercial premises like the new RBS headquarters at Spinningfields, and the soon to be completed Beetham Tower..
This world class architecture is a magnet for tourism, and reflects the growing importance of this activity to the regional economy.
International visitors to the city now number close to one million, making Manchester the third most popular UK destination for overseas visitors, but only just behind Edinburgh. How does this impact the local economy? Latest tourism figures show that the amount tourists spend in the Greater Manchester region has grown a staggering 50 per cent since 1999, currently standing at £2.4bn, and the sector employs over 50,000 people.
Manchester is also now a successful conference and convention destination, being in the top 50 cities worldwide.
Thus business tourism is flourishing in the City, and business tourists spend money!
It is because Manchester is now so popular that we have first class hotels, bars, restaurants and luxury apartment accommodation in the City. It really is a virtual circle, and we must invest to keep it going.
Manchester’s changing skyline, however, is perhaps the biggest tribute to the confidence in the city’s ability to attract leisure and business visitors alike. Visitors to the city will not only be provided with a wealth of high quality facilities that the new skyline will create, but are even now receiving a glimpse of the future dynamic of the city, from whichever direction they approach.
Not yet quite Manhattan, but judging by the increasing number of tower cranes, we’re well on our way.
JOHN McGuire writes as Principal of McGuire Associates and Chair of Marketing Manchester.