In 2020 the value of the Liverpool city region visitor economy plummeted by almost £3bn due to the pandemic and now Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram is looking to revive the sector. Tony McDonough reports
A £3.2m programme aims to rebuild the Liverpool city region’s shattered visitor economy which saw revenues plummet by almost £3bn in 2020.
In 2019 the city region visitor economy was worth just under £5bn. In 2020, this figure fell to £2.1bn as the COVID-19 pandemic caused multiple lockdowns, extended closures of hospitality venues and a collapse in travel.
It is estimated that the local tourism sector shed 31,000 jobs during the years with the disruption continuing well into 2021. Now, with most restrictions lifted, a new campaign will look to attract visitors from within the UK.
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has now approved £1.5m for a new three-year marketing drive that will initially look to attract visitors from London, the South East, the Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland and, eventually people from overseas as International travel gets back on track.
This new funding will enable the CA’s Growth Platform to create a £3.2m marketing and advertising campaign with the balance of the cash coming from the private sector. It is based on marketing plans for Liverpool, Wirral and Southport as the main destination brands for the Liverpool city region.
It will deploy an “attract and disperse” principle, focused on the pulling power of Liverpool coupled with the area’s wider tourism assets including its coast and countryside, to spread the benefits across all parts of the city region. Specific marketing for Wirral and Southport will focus on markets within a 90-minute travel time.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “In recent years our city region has become an international destination of choice, attracting visitors from all over the world to soak up our culture, music, sport, hospitality and much, much more.
“Over the last year and a half we’ve helped more than 4,500 local businesses with over £45m worth of funding to keep them afloat during the pandemic. With restrictions on international travel likely to continue this year, we want as many people as possible to choose our region for a staycation this year.
“As things get back to normal, people will be able to enjoy all of the things that make the Liverpool City Region so vibrant – with fewer international tourists, you might even beat the queues.”
The money will also pay for improvements to the city region’s destination websites through investment in a new integrated operating platform and systems to better support online marketing activity, customer management and user tracking.
It will also create a better experience for visitors to the websites, enhancing booking capability and itinerary planning. Activity is due to start in autumn this year, with a full programme of activities planned for 2022.