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The Northwest’s Tourism Sector
The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) works to build the competitiveness of our region’s businesses, people and places – the vital ingredients of economic success. The visitor economy is a vital part of the wider economy of the Northwest, worth an estimated £14.3 billion annually, supporting 220,000 jobs and with an estimated GVA of £5.7 billion. The Agency supports the sector by: • Leading on a clearly defined Tourism Strategy and sub-regional delivery structures to provide effective support for business. • Investing in projects of national and international significance to attract visitors to the region’s destinations, including Liverpool Waterfront, The Lake District and Chester Super Zoo. • Driving up the quality of the tourism sector by working with businesses to improve their skills and performance. • Drawing in new visitors to the region by effectively promoting the region’s key destinations. • Attracting major cultural, sporting and business events to the region to generate high levels of tourism and increased spending.
Key priorities for the tourism sector The NWDA establishes the direction, allocates resources and manages relationships with the region’s five tourist boards. Through its small team of experts the Agency leads developments in visitor information, quality, tourism research, skills, business development and marketing which stretch across all of the sub-regions. Liverpool European Capital of Culture – The Agency was a major supporter of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture bid and became an official partner in the 08 programme. NWDA funding and support has enabled the development of the Echo Arena and Convention Centre, the Cruise Liner facility and the extension to the Leeds to Liverpool Canal. To maximise the benefits for the wider region, 08-themed programmes for each sub-region were set up, which collectively attracted an additional 500,000 visitors and helped the overall economic impact of Capital of Culture top £800 million. Coastal towns – One of the NWDA’s key objectives is to reverse the decline of coastal towns. Up to January 2010, the Agency has invested £234 million in coastal areas. A further £100 million is planned over the next three years, the majority of which will benefit the visitor economies of Blackpool, Southport and Morecambe. Projects include: the restoration of the Midland Hotel in Morecambe; creating an attractive central approach to Blackpool; Blackpool Central seafront; and Southport Cultural Centre. Marketing the region – The NWDA has led and implemented a number of high-profile marketing campaigns over the years. By 2007, the £16 million Regional Marketing Programme had generated £119 million in tourism revenue for the Northwest, a figure which is expected to rise by £100 million year on year. The step-change in the region’s image has since been evidenced by a unique MORI tracking survey, showing that public perceptions and business leaders’ confidence in the region have significantly improved since 2001.
“The scale of coordinated investment that has been seen in Liverpool over the last few years could not have been achieved without the input of a regional body such as the NWDA. From the cruise liner facility to the Echo Arena and the new Museum of Liverpool; these developments have had a huge impact on the city’s visitor economy.” Stephen Roberts, Chair, Liverpool Hoteliers
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Other priorities for the tourism sector: Quality – Quality is a cornerstone of the regional tourism strategy and is integral to boosting business performance. In Cumbria, the NWDA has invested in Tourism Connect – an initiative led by Cumbria Tourism designed to drive up quality and performance in the county’s accommodation providers. The £2.2 million scheme has assisted 44 businesses to make £6 million worth of improvements, created 107 full-time jobs and driven £6 million of additional business. Skills – The NWDA established, with support from People 1st, a Tourism Sector Skills and Productivity Alliance (SSPA) which leads the delivery of tourism skills initiatives across the region to support the National Skills Strategy. In preparation for London 2012, programmes include: improving leadership and management; ensuring the region is ready to deliver the new ‘World Class Customer Service’ qualification; and supporting the development of Junior Chefs Academies within the region. Research – A high-quality evidence base is essential to support the successful growth of the tourism sector and inform planning and investment decisions. The NWDA has played a key role, at a national level, in the establishment of the English Tourism Intelligence Partnership. The NWDA leads an ongoing programme of tourism research to improve data robustness and develop a greater understanding of visitor markets and economic impact. Recent innovative research projects have included day visitor, staying visitor and business tourism research which have led to improvements in the accuracy of volume and value data. Visitor information – Since 2007 the NWDA has invested £5.5 million in improving the provision of visitor information across the region. The Visitor Information Infrastructure project has driven physical improvements in the region’s strategic tourist information centres (TICs) and has invested in training and ICT improvements. The project runs until 2012, by which time all of the region’s key TICs will have received capital improvement grants, a number of new IT projects will have been delivered and over 400 staff across the Northwest will have taken part in a training programme. Visitor attraction development – The NWDA has focused investment in major projects that have the potential to transform the region’s visitor economy, particularly around ‘signature projects’ such as Chester Zoo, Liverpool’s Historic Waterfront and Hadrian’s Wall. The Agency is currently investing £15 million in existing attractions of national and international significance through the Visitor Attractions Fund in order to reinforce the region’s unique and attractive identity. Major events – Major events supported by the NWDA have contributed over £150 million to the Northwest economy in the last five years. Events include Manchester International Festival and the Great North Swim. During 2008/09, the NWDA supported 25 major events, which brought 1.75 million visitors to the region and generated £45 million for the economy. Major events staged in the region also sustain on average 450 jobs per year.
“Winning the Northwest Tourism Awards has provided a huge boost for The Lowry Hotel. In addition, the NWDA’s thematic approach to tourism marketing has added value to Manchester’s marketing activity.” Jason Harding, General Manager, The Lowry Hotel, Manchester
Renaissance House, Centre Park, Warrington, WA1 1QN Tel: +44 (0)1925 400 100 Fax: +44 (0)1925 400 400 www.nwda.co.uk March 2010 NWDA k3-02