Liverpool city region tourism value now above £5bn

Tourism across Liverpool city region is now worth a record £5bn annually, surpassing the £4.98bn high just before the COVID pandemic – but visitor numbers still lag 2019. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in May to worldwide acclaim


Tourism in Liverpool city region is now worth a record £5bn a year although visitor numbers are still lower than the final pre-pandemic year.

According to independent research for 2022, commissioned by the visitor economy team at economic development agency Growth Platform, visitor numbers during 2022 were just under 56m.

This is still below the 66.27m who visited the city region in 2019, but significantly above the 26.14m seen in 2020 and 42.15m in 2021. The value of the visitor economy in 2019 was £4.98bn.

Other data shows the number of staying visitors has risen to 5.83m overtaking the 2019 figure of 5.40m and also higher than the 2018 figure of 5.48m. There were just over 50m day visitors, catching up with 2019 figures of 60.86m. 2021 saw 38.12m visitors.

There has also been a good recovery in the visitor economy jobs market. In 2019 the sector employed 55,703. This plummeted to 24,000 during the pandemic. In 2022 this had recovered to 51,605.

Figures also show hotel occupancy is steadily rising to 74.3% from the 55.2% in 2021. The figure in 2019 was 78.4%.

It already looks like 2023 will show stronger figures still. An estimated half a million extra visitors came in the two weeks leading up to the Eurovision Song Contest in May. And the return of the Open golf to Hoylake in July brought another 250,000 people.

Janet Nuzum, visitor economy sector manager at Growth Platform, said: “We are absolutely delighted to witness the resurgence of tourism in Liverpool city region.

“And these figures can only go on an upward trajectory with the success of hosting this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, The Open Championship, the Grand National Festival and other world-famous events.

“Eurovision alone is forecast to increase the number of visitors to the city region by around 5% for years to come – boosting the economy by £250m by 2026.”

Janet added: “There is of course still work to be done but the support and resilience of our local community, businesses and tourism partners have not only been integral to this fantastic recovery but are key to the continued growth of our visitor economy.”


Open, golf, Hoylake
Crowds at the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Picture by Richard Heathcote/R&A via Getty Images
Merseyrail recorded more than 105,000 passenger journeys during the 2023 Grand National Festival


As part of the continuing recovery efforts Growth Platform has worked with the visitor economy sector to deliver a series of sector boosting initiatives.

These include growing the number of business events in the region and a three-year destination marketing project, via the Strategic Investment Fund.

The business events project has resulted in attracting and delivering 31 conferences since 2021 and has created £13.9m economic impact to the region.

The destination marketing project is focused on delivering a programme of regional marketing activity, targeting domestic and overseas growth markets and dispersing those visitors and their spend across the region.

These figures are published by the STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) model, which is used throughout the UK tourism industry. Hotel occupancy data is provided by STR Global. To read the report in full click here.

Liverpool City Council also released sepaate figures for just the city. Using the same data source it revealed the value of rhe visitor econony in 2022 was £3.58bn and the city welcomed 31.5m visitors, up from 23.9m in 2021.

Hotel occupancy was up with 1.98m visitors compared to 1.24m in 2021. Non-serviced accommodation, such as Airbnb, also proved popular with more than 358,000 visitors using them compared to just over 228,000 in 2021.

READ MORE: More than 3,000 jobseekers attended Eurovision jobs fairs

The number of jobs in the sector rose by more than 37%t, with 35,060 people employed in 2022. up from 25,535 in 2021.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, Councillor Harry Doyle, added: “We’re delighted with the rate of recovery, and seeing such a significant economic boost is a real vote of confidence for a sector this city relies so heavily upon.

“It’s important not to forget that at the start of 2021 COVID restrictions were still in place and it was a pretty bleak outlook for this industry, particularly in Liverpool – so these figures are a welcome confidence boost that show the city is bouncing back.”

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