Prior to the pandemic the travel and tourism sector was worth a whopping £12.6 billion pounds a year to the West Midlands.
But with 18 months of lockdowns, traffic light systems, expensive covid tests and rules the industry has suffered.
Now the local teams are ready to bounce back and have been promoting their latest plans at Britain’s biggest tourism and travel show at Birmingham’s NEC.
Four ways the West Midlands Travel industry is bouncing back
National and international events: Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and Coventry currently hosting the UK City of Culture are expected to bring about a prompt return of visitors giving a vital boost to the region’s economy.
Staycations: There has been a huge 500% increase in Google searches for pandemic since 2018 with Birmingham and the West Midland is home to some of the UK’s best destinations, including the Bullring, Mailbox, Jewellery Quarter, canals and craft breweries.
Heart of the UK tourism industry: The NEC hosts the biggest UK travel trade event and welcomed 250 exhibitors to this year’s Travel and Tourism Show where they discovered exciting new ideas for trips, tours and itineraries across the British Isles and beyond.
Renewed recognition: With the industry placed under such pressure throughout the pandemic, experts feel that there is now a better understanding of its true value.
How will the Commonwealth Games help? Isn’t it just about sport?
More than a billion people will be watching as Birmingham hosts the Commonwealth Games next year.
Visitors from across the region, country and world are expected in person and spend quality time in our region experiencing the best we have to offer.
West Midlands Growth Company, the organisation set up to grow tourism in the region, has unveiled a programme to boost the long-term impact of Birmingham 2022.
The Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) is designed to secure more than £650 million of new overseas investment into the UK, and create £7 million of additional export deals until 2027.
It is also expected to attract an additional 39,000 visitors to the region and UK until 2027, with an estimated £12 million in visitor spend.
Neil Rami, Chief Executive, West Midlands Growth Company said: “The BATP gives us the opportunity to celebrate our successes and stories with audiences right across the Commonwealth. It will leave a tangible economic legacy for Birmingham, the West Midlands and the UK for years to come.”
Industry expert Heidi Chamberlain-Jones, Managing Director of Eat Drink Sleep Herefordshire, said: “Being in the West Midlands there’s bound to be that spin off from that international visitor that will come to the Commonwealth Games and who will come to Birmingham.
“It’s a big city and people will want to see what is around that geography. They don’t just stay in one place when they come, because they’re not just staying for short periods of time.”
Why are staycations so important?
The West Midlands Growth Company said: "This is truly the year to take a new look at the great West Midlands tourist attractions on our doorstep.
“By staying local, we will help to support our wonderful attractions as they bounce back from a challenging 18 months, driving our regional economy and creating jobs across our communities.”
How do trade fairs like the British and Travel & Tourism Show help?
Helen Conway Group Director British Travel & Tourism Show said: “It’s been such a long slog over the last 18 months, we know that the industry has been really struggling and we’ve been with them in the journey and to be able to get this year’s event together has been really amazing.
“We’ve got 250 exhibitors with us and they have their own challenges and we are delighted that we are able to open the show today.”
Heidi added: “What the last eighteen months has done has highlighted how important that area is to the region’s economy.
“We haven’t been here since 2019 and it’s lovely to bring everybody together and to see people ready to do travel again around the country.
“Tourism is a massive industry for us. Hospitality is a massive industry and I think this has been ignored for sometime and overlooked across the whole country.
“What this last 18 months has done is highlight how important that industry and sector is to the whole economy.”