London, Manchester and Birmingham jointly launch ground-breaking, international tourism drive

The UK’s three largest cities, London, Manchester and Birmingham have formed an alliance to jointly promote the best of English tourism in three of the world’s fastest growing markets: China, India and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. The partnership, which will see the three English cities collaborate on tourism for the first time, will focus on increasing the number of visitors arriving in one city and then travelling across the different regions. 

The project, called “Experience England” and led by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, has the backing of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street. It will be financed by a £1.2m grant awarded to London & Partners as part of a number of successful projects to receive funding from the UK Government’s £40 million fund administered by VisitEngland and which is designed to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing tourism industry. 

The project will create and promote a new England tourism experience, making it easy for customers from China, India and the GCC to visit the great cities of London, Manchester and Birmingham and then go on to explore the beautiful English countryside and villages. Research by London & Partners shows that fewer than a third of visitors staying overnight in the capital go on to stay overnight elsewhere in the country. Yet the same research shows that levels of visitor satisfaction increase significantly when people do visit other destinations.  

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “London is home to the 10 most popular tourist attractions in the UK and we’re proud to welcome millions of visitors every year. But it’s important that they have the chance to see what’s on offer in other parts of the country too and I’m committed to working with other cities and regions to use the capital’s reputation to drive tourism across the nation." 

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, said: “The West Midlands has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. The region attracted some 2.2 million international visits in 2016, and was the English region to see the greatest growth in international visitors, last year. Not only does the West Midlands boast a vibrant retail offer, Michelin star restaurants and world-class cultural gems, it’s also an essential gateway to the heart of England and its countryside, and is a stone’s throw from the capital city. By working in partnership with locations across the UK, this project will highlight how seamless exploring the full breadth of the UK’s leisure offering can be”. 

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester is not only a vibrant, exciting region but it is also a gateway to explore the north of England, including places such as the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, the Peak District and so much more. With increasing interest from international visitors now is the ideal time to work together to create compelling itineraries that showcase the breadth and diversity of the entire country, starting or ending in our three biggest cities. Of course, it is well-known that Greater Manchester is a city-region that has collaboration, partnership and innovation at its core, so I am delighted to see this project move forward via the team at Marketing Manchester and its counterparts in London and the West Midlands.” 

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester lead on internationalisation, added: "Whether it's through sport, our rich cultural heritage and exciting nightlife or our history of innovation Manchester already has huge international recognition and visitor appeal. Working together we can capitalise on this strength and ensure that visitors to the UK get to sample more of what the country has to offer and experience a warm welcome."  

Sally Balcombe, CEO at VisitBritain and VisitEngland, said: “The calibre of submissions to the Discover England Fund reflects the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England. It’s great to see the innovative way this project is getting  visitors exploring the country and twin-centre holidays will make more of England accessible.” 

The tourism and hospitality sector is a vital, and growing industry for major cities. In the UK tourism makes up 9 per cent of GDP. In London, the figure is higher at 11.6 per cent. 

In 2016, almost 1.5 million visitors arrived in the UK from China, India and the GCC, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to data from VisitBritain. 

China, India and the GCC are projected to be some of the fastest growing tourism markets in the world. Figures from London & Partners also show the number of visitors to London from the three countries are expected to increase sharply by 2025i. 

Notes to Editors

i According to the Tourism Vision for London, visits to London from China, India and the GCC countries are expected to grow by 103 per cent, 90 per cent , and 36 per cent, respectively. 

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About London & Partners 

London & Partners is the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency. Its purpose is to support the Mayor’s priorities by promoting London internationally, as the best city in the world in which to invest, work, study and visit. We do this by devising creative ways to promote London and to amplify the Mayor’s messages, priorities and campaigns to international audiences.  Its mission is to tell London’s story brilliantly to an international audience. 

London & Partners is a not-for-profit public private partnership, funded by the Mayor of London and our network of commercial partners. For more information, visit is the most influential source of information for overseas visitors to London and features thousands of attractions both large and small across the entire city. Every year the site attracts 28 million unique users.  


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