Coventry visitor figures rise to over 10m in 2019
Coventry has seen record breaking growth in the number of people visiting the city in 2019 compared to previous years - and the city’s food and drink sector has seen the largest rise.
The figures were set out in an annual report commissioned by the Coventry Destination Management Partnership and Coventry Business Improvement District. The Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM) report is a tourism economic impact model that helps to indicate growth trends and the value of the city’s visitor economy.
In 2019, Coventry recorded over 10m visitors compared to 8.9m in 2016. In economic terms the visitor economy was worth £594m last year – a 4.6 per cent increase on the previous year.
According to senior councillors and business leaders, the growth figures reflect the impact of Coventry’s UK City of Culture status for 2021, improvements in the city centre food and drinks offer, the influence of students on the city, and the higher numbers of local people using venues.
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said the figures are excellent news for the city but added that the economic impact of Covid-19 is proving a major challenge. He said:
“The figures for 2019 are a positive message to local businesses and particularly those in the food and hospitality sector. We know how hard it is for all those businesses because of the effects of social distancing guidance, but we hope that the improvements that are evident in 2019 provide hope for the future.
“We have adjusted our plans for UK City of Culture 2021 to run for twelve months from May 2021 and we are working with local businesses and those companies that are crucial to the offer for overnight and day visitors.
“There are uncertainties ahead, but this is a hopeful sign as we - like many other cities - manage the need to contain the Covid-19 outbreak and stimulate the local economy and boost consumer confidence.”
Trish Willets, Director of Coventry BID, said:
“We are proud to work at the grass roots level with our retailers, food and drink outlets and businesses. We hear and see, first hand, that these operators – under normal circumstances - are experiencing growth and this report helps us put a number to that growth.
“These amazing figures show that what’s been done to date is working. They also feed into our ‘Coventry BID Recovery Toolkit’, which helps us to help our businesses repair, recover and revive after lockdown.
“One exciting tool in our kit is the inaugural Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards, which has already received nominations for over 40 venues in just over a week – proving there’s an appetite to toast the best of the city and county’s food and drink scene. We say, ‘cheers’ to that.”
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said:
"The figures show that Coventry was moving in the right direction when it comes to visitor numbers and that the UK City of Culture title has already led to people taking a fresh look at the city.
"The COVID-19 crisis has, of course, hit hard - especially those in the tourism and leisure sector and we continue our push for further support for businesses in this area of the economy.
"With City of Culture running from May 2021 to May 2022 and being followed immediately by the Commonwealth Games in 2022, there is a real opportunity to build on these figures which will help to stimulate an economic boost at a crucial time."
The STEAM economic impact report indicates that in 2019 the food and drink sector represented the largest overall contribution to the visitor economy - 29 per cent at £110m (up 6.1 per cent on 2018).
Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said:
“It is great to see the positive impact that winning the UK City of Culture title at the end of 2017 has already had on tourism in Coventry, even before our year as UK City of Culture begins in 2021.
“Making lasting changes in our city is a key part of why we won the title and we’ll continue to use the findings of this annual report to measure our success in 2021 and beyond.”
Cllr O’Boyle added: “The work we have done to expand the restaurant quarter at Cathedral Lanes and elsewhere is reflected in the growth figures and I’m keen to see other city centre improvements take effect.”