Tourism in Coventry enjoyed a record year in 2022 as the value of the visitor economy in the city soared to £750.86 million and recovered to surpass pre-pandemic levels.
The visitor economy broke the previous record set in 2019 and saw growth in visitor numbers as 11.05 million people flocked to the city – a one million increase on 2019 and near three million on 2021.
Visitor spend figures have shown a £250 million increase on 2021, which were below pre-pandemic levels, but also a 26.3 per cent (£156.5 million) increase on 2019.
Key events including Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have been identified as drivers for the growth – with visitor numbers peaking in May and August.
This has been revealed in an economic impact report on tourism in the city, which was commissioned by destination management organisation, Destination Coventry, in partnership with West Midlands Growth Company.
The report has been formulated by Global Tourism Solutions using its STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) model.
The number of full-time equivalent jobs supported by the sector has also risen since 2019, from 6,760 to 7,354. The report also revealed there are a further 755 accommodation beds in the pipeline, across eight new developments, to accommodate for overnight stay visitors to the city.
The results showed that overnight spend per visitor has grown to £224.74 and day visitor spend to £46.18, while the percentage of overnight visitors grew by one per cent to 12 per cent.
Coventry has seen percentage growth in visitor numbers of nearly double the wider West Midlands region, and experienced an economic impact boost of 26.3 per cent compared to 7.3 per cent of the area covered by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
Coventry is ahead of targets set in the city’s tourism strategy across a range of key metrics, including already exceeding 2023’s target for visitor numbers.
The figures reflect the first full year of operations for Destination Coventry, which includes brands Visit Coventry and Conference Coventry and Warwickshire, after being launched in 2021.
Paul Jones, Managing Director of Destination Coventry, said: “We didn’t anticipate that the visitor economy would recover this quickly from the pandemic and it’s fantastic to see that Coventry is also significantly out-performing the recovery of the wider WMCA visitor economy.
“While this is a clear increase on 2020 figures, it’s important that we look at the results comparatively with 2019. The pandemic wiped around 60 per cent off our visitor economy in terms of both value and visitor numbers.
“Organisations including the DCMS and Visit Britain forecasted various timescales for recovery, but none suggested that this would be possible in 2022, but that is exactly what we’ve achieved.
“Our visitor economy has not only recovered to pre-pandemic levels, it has grown significantly beyond our record level, which is testament to how tourism is thriving in Coventry.”
Destination Coventry is a collaboration between Coventry City Council and Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
Corin Crane, Chief Executive of Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “I’ve been in this role for just under a year and I’ve been blown away by how Coventry is getting so much right and has so much to shout about.
“We have so many incredible assets in the city and, in the past year, even more have been brought to life – from St Mary’s Guildhall through to the Charterhouse.
“Then you look at a venue like the Coventry Building Society Arena, where they’ve hosted two sell-out football matches, Harry Styles and the Arctic Monkeys in recent weeks, which will be reflected in next year’s figures.
“The knock-on effect for the wider economy is phenomenal and the latest statistics prove that. These really are exciting times for the city.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change, said: “These results are great news and prove what we knew of course – that Coventry is a great city with plenty to offer visitors, whatever their interest.
“The tourism sector is important for the city’s economic success and for jobs but it’s also a measure of a thriving city with plenty going on for local people to enjoy too.
“I’m pleased that work is underway to provide more overnight accommodation so more people can spend in even longer in our fine city.”
Becky Frall, Head of Tourism at West Midlands Growth Company, said: “These fantastic visitor and spend figures have broken previous records and demonstrate an impressive recovery for the tourism and hospitality sector in Coventry.
“They really underline the benefit of coherent destination management by Destination Coventry, where stakeholders work together towards a united vision, and secure the longer-term benefits of major events such as Coventry UK City of Culture and as a host of Birmingham Commonwealth Games events.
“The visitor economy supports jobs for local people and sustains vibrant places, underpinning a deeper cultural, sporting and culinary offer for everyone.”