A new £1.5m fund has been launched to lure UK tourists back to the Liverpool City Region.
At its meeting on 23 July, the Combined Authority approved the package, which will target staycationers from London, the South East, the Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland with marketing and advertising. It will also support the drive to increase international visitors when restrictions are fully lifted.
The fund will also be used to improve the City Region’s tourism websites.
It will enable Growth Platform to create a £3.2m three-year programme to rebuild the visitor economy, with the majority of the money set to come from the private sector.
Announcing the funding, 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!”
Lockdown restrictions have had a significant impact on the City Region’s visitor economy. Normally worth £4.9billion a year and supporting 59,000 jobs, the sector brought in just £2.1bn in 2020. Visit Britain forecasts that visitor spend nationwide in 2021 will be only 23% of 2019 levels and visitor numbers only 29%.
The project is based on marketing plans for Liverpool, Wirral and Southport as the main destination brands for the Liverpool City Region, using 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.
The fund will pay for marketing efforts to attract tourists to visit Liverpool in areas including London and the South East, the Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland, all of whom are within a two to three-hour travel time. Specific marketing for Wirral and Southport will focus on markets within a 90-minute travel time.
It 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.
The main priorities of the Destination Marketing project are to:
- bring tourists back to the city region, rebuilding confidence amongst existing markets when they are ready to come back and ensuring that the city region remains competitive;
- develop new visitor markets that have emerged as a result of the pandemic;
- attract markets that can come mid-week to increase demand out of core season;
- help all businesses in the hospitality, retail, attraction and cultural sectors to resume successful trading;
- establish a new sustainable funding model to support future marketing campaigns beyond the next two years; and
- support the emerging destinations which have been (or are in the process of being) transformed through the regeneration schemes around the city region.
Activity related to the programme is due to start in Autumn this year, with a full programme of activities planned for 2022.