HS2 will have a tremendous impact on Birmingham’s growing visitor economy, says Marketing Birmingham chief executive Neil Rami.
Visitor numbers have increased by 13% in Birmingham in the last five years, from 29.1 million to 32.8 million. This is worth an estimated £4.6 billion to the local economy.
Mr Rami said Birmingham’s location at the hub of the HS2 network meant it was uniquely placed to take advantage of fast, direct links with major UK and European cities.
Birmingham already attracts more conferences than any other UK city outside London and Mr Rami says HS2 will bring many more business and leisure visitors to the region.
“The Birmingham area is already very successful in attracting both business and leisure visitors, but we need greater accessibility both to and within the city to boost these numbers even further.
“The speed and convenience of high speed rail – plus other investments in the region such as the regeneration of New Street Station, Birmingham Airport’s redevelopment and the extension of Midland Metro – will make it much easier for local, national and international travellers to visit the region, which will help to attract more consumer spending and business investment here.”
HS2 will cut Birmingham-London journey times from around 1 hour 24 minutes to 45 minutes, with phase two cutting Birmingham-Manchester journey times from 1 hour 31 minutes to 41 minutes and Birmingham-Leeds journey times from two hours to 57 minutes.
“Birmingham is one of the UK’s best placed cities for exhibitions, conferences and event facilities, including The NEC, The ICC, The LG Arena and the NIA,” Mr Rami said.
“The arrival of HS2 will make a tremendously positive impact on this industry, boosting our reputation as somewhere that delegates can easily reach and will enjoy visiting – two key factors for organisers when they are considering where to locate events.”
As well as the 30,000 bed spaces already available to visitors to Birmingham and the wider region, there are an additional 27 hotels at various stages in planning and construction.
Jerry Blackett, CEO, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, said: “We now have an opportunity to live through another railway era and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce is convinced that this will grow our city exponentially.
“By shrinking the appreciable distances between our engines of growth, our cities, and by dramatically boosting the capacity on our railways our economy will reap the benefit.
“Our HS2 stations in Eastside and at the Airport and NEC must be clear and confident statements of intent from a bold and ambitious city.” he added.
Paul Thandi, CEO NEC Group said:
“The NEC site alone, which is also home to the LG Arena as well as the NEC, attracts more than three million visitors each year – 70 per cent of which are from outside the West Midlands, and 10 per cent outside the UK.
“These two venues create 25,000 jobs and generate £1.8billion economic impact – so with time being one of the most precious commodities, if it’s easier and faster to get to us, then this is a great advantage – attracting even more visitors from a broader market and greatly benefiting the wider regional economy.”