Peninsula currently attracts 8.2m visitors a year, is worth £385m and supports 5,000 jobs and a new strategy has been launched to maximise its value to the local economy. Tony McDonough reports
A new tourism strategy for Wirral aims to push the value of the sector up from the current £385m a year to £450m by 2020 and £550m by 2025.
It is also looking to increase the number of annual visitors to the peninsula from the current 8.2m to 9m by 2020.
The lead partners in the strategy – Wirral Council, Wirral Chamber of Commerce and the Wirral Visitor Economy Network (WVEN) – will seek to build stronger links with visitor economy businesses such as hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Liverpool city region’s visitor economy is worth £4.3bn annually and, although Liverpool city centre is the biggest driver, Wirral is the fastest-growing of the six boroughs.
Since 2010 the number of annual visitors has risen by 26%. The annual number for day visitors is 7.42m with staying visitors totalling 788,000 and the sector supports 5,000 jobs.
Key attractions include seaside locations such as West Kirby and New Brighton, the spectacular 12-mile Wirral Way country walk, Merseyside’s oldest building Birkenhead Priory as well as as 14 golf courses, including the Royal Liverpool in Hoylake which hosted the British Open Golf Championship in 2006 and 2014.
A new Visitor Economy delivery team will be based within the Wirral Chamber of Commerce to develop a marketing strategy, which will include:
- Developing a digital destination venue directory hosted on Visit Wirral
- Developing a three-year business plan to attract more conferences, exhibitions and events
- Establishing a destination lead for conference & corporate events and develop marketing, research and bidding opportunities
- Developing partnerships supporting product packaging and development of themed itineraries for the travel trade
- Developing a commercially led events model to focus on key events space in Wirral
Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber, is confident that the initiative will achieve growth in developing the visitor economy.
She said, “The Wirral Visitor Economy Strategy will help us focus and build on our key assets and drive us forward so we can grow this important sector for the benefit of local businesses and residents.”