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Major international tourism drive by UK’s three largest cities


The UK’s three largest cities – London, Manchester and Birmingham – have formed an alliance to jointly promote the best of English tourism in three of the world’s fastest growing markets: China, India and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.

The partnership, which will see the three English cities collaborate on tourism for the first time, will focus on increasing number of visitors arriving in one city and then travelling across the different regions.

The project, called ‘Experience England’ and led by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, has the backing of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street. It will be financed by a GBP1.2m grant awarded to London & Partners as part of a number of successful projects to receive funding from the UK Government’s GBP40 million fund administered by VisitEngland and which is designed to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing tourism industry.

The project will create and promote a new England tourism experience, making it easy for customers from China, India and the GCC to visit the cities of London, Manchester and Birmingham and then go on to explore the English countryside and villages.

Sally Balcombe, CEO at VisitBritain and VisitEngland, said: “The calibre of submissions to the Discover England Fund reflects innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading economic benefits of tourism across England. It’s great to see the innovative way this project is getting  visitors exploring the country and twin-centre holidays will make more of England accessible.”

The tourism and hospitality sector is a vital, and growing industry for major cities. In the UK, tourism makes up nine percent of GDP. In London, the figure is higher at 11.6%. In 2016, almost 1.5 million visitors arrived in the UK from China, India and the GCC, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to data from VisitBritain.

China, India and the GCC are projected to be some of the fastest growing tourism markets in the world. Figures from London & Partners also show the number of visitors to London from the three countries are expected to increase sharply by 2025.