Thursday 03 May 2012

While London and Edinburgh continue to maintain their traditional supremacy as the two most popular urban destinations in the UK, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and now Bristol are emerging as rival attractions. The rise of the cities is highlighted in the most recent analysis of overnight stays by overseas visitors in UK cities in 2011 by VisitBritain, the national tourism agency.

When researchers looked at all types of visits, London retains its top spot with 15.2 million overseas visitors staying in the city in 2011, followed in second place by Edinburgh with 1.3 million.

But Manchester, with its two competing global football teams, its ultra-modern new landmark buildings such as the Lowry Centre, a new state of the art BBC media centre (open to tourists) and world-class shopping is firmly in third place with 936,000 visits (up 15 per cent on 2010). Birmingham sits neatly into fourth spot with 732,000 visitors attracted by its outstanding arts, exhibitions and one of the largest shopping centres in the UK, the Bullring, host to the best designer labels as well as accommodating for 25 restaurants to cater for all tastes.

Liverpool, who have also seen a 15 per cent rise in foreign visitors, overtake Glasgow moving into fifth place. Liverpool, the World Capital of Pop, is famous for its musical heritage, culture and architecture and attracted a substantial 545,000 foreigners.Oxford, in seventh place, welcomed a record amount of visitors in 2011, seeing 12 per cent more foreigners enjoy the delights of the old colleges (462,000). As any resident will advise the best way to discover Oxford is on foot, and the official guided walking tour of the city and university help visitors understand the story behind Oxford’s great history.

Outside the top 10, cities such as Leeds, Cardiff, Aberdeen, Windsor, Carlisle, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newquay, Harrogate and Cheltenham saw international visits higher than in 2010.

Patricia Yates, Strategy and Communications Director for VisitBritain said: “These results confirm international visitors who might come here because of the global appeal of London are starting to appreciate our vibrant cities outside the capital, and the very different offerings of Edinburgh Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

“In such a key year to showcase Britain, and all that our visitors can experience here, VisitBritain’s GREAT image and tactical campaigns in key inbound markets ensures that tourism growth, economic benefits and jobs are delivered right across Britain."

For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team

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View of the five-star Lowry Hotel at dusk, on the banks of the River Irwell in the Chapel Wharf area in the heart of the city, Manchester, Manchester, England.
Men outside Selfridges department store at the Bullring shopping centre, Birmingham, West Midlands, England.