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And director of Marketing Liverpool Chris Brown, the man who sells the city across the world, says we have one key advantage which should put us ahead of our tourism rivals.
Location, location, location.
When it comes to attracting visitors from within this country, he believes Liverpool’s proximity to beautiful coastal areas and beaches, as well as our own waterfront, will give us the edge.
“We know that the people who are booking at the moment are tending to choose rural and countryside locations where there is space,” he explains.
“Competing with that is a challenge for some cities but for us, it gives us an opportunity to really focus on the city centre, the waterfront and the access to coastal and countryside of Sefton and Wirral. It gives us a chance to send out a clear message that if you come to Liverpool you can be in a city, with everything that has to offer culturally, but still be by the coast.
“That gives us a big advantage over other cities like Leeds, Birmingham or Nottingham which are much more land-locked.
“We know, even once the restrictions are eased, some visitors are still going to be a bit nervous about crowded areas and going into cities so we have to focus on what makes us different and we definitely have that in the urban and rural mix.
“That’s a real positive for us so we’ll be showing potential visitors how close these things are to the city centre. That’s our key message: we’ve got the whole package, whatever you want to do.”
Liverpool City Council revealed back in September last year just how badly impacted our tourism industry had been by Covid restrictions. No concerts, theatre visits, no cruise visits, no football fans or museum visits, meant the visitor economy took an estimated £1billion hit from March to August 2020.
Visitors usually bring in around £3.3billion to Liverpool alone, and that rises to more like £5billion for the city region as a whole.
That’s why Chris says it’s so vital that he and his team go all-out to promote what we have to offer as soon as they can.
“We’re working on the basis that up until April 12 everything is very localised,” he says. “If opening of non-essential retail goes according to the Government’s plan, we’ve got a window of five weeks to promote staycations between then and May 17 when hoteliers, museums and galleries and other elements of the hospitality industry should reopen.
“There’s no doubt that the market for us in the near term, certainly the next 3-6 months, is definitely the UK one. Near European – Dutch, French, Spanish – might start to come back towards back end of this year, and international long-haul – USA, China, India – not until summer 2022.
“Since the roadmap was announced we’ve seen a big spike in our search traffic, so we know the interest is there, but they’re browsing and not necessarily booking. Our challenge now is to make the transfers from looking to booking.
“Liverpool’s brand is strong and if we can supplement that with great safe content like the Biennial and Liverpool Without Walls growing and developing the al fresco element then I think we’ll be in a good place to compete in what’s going to be a very congested market.”
Chris says Marketing Liverpool is liaising with hoteliers to make sure their booking terms are as attractive as possible.
“At this stage people want to know that if they do book, the cancellation and booking terms are favourable, because if something goes wrong you don’t want a situation where people are struggling to get their money back,” he says. “We’re working with Liverpool Hospitality Association so the terms make it as easy as possible for people.”
Marcus Magee, general manager of Hilton Hotel Liverpool City Centre agrees that the pandemic has made people rethink what they want from a getaway or a holiday.
“During the past 12 months government legislation and guidelines have forced people to spend time closer to home and it has made many re-evaluate the risk of travelling abroad,” he says.
“There has definitely been a renewed respect and desire to discover all that Britain has to offer. At the Hilton Hotel Liverpool City Centre we have invested heavily in our ‘CleanStay’ programme which will give our guests added confidence that they will be in a safe environment post pandemic.
“Liverpool is the fifth most visited city in the UK and with all of its cultural, sporting and musical heritage, not forgetting the great retail offering, it is positioned well to continue its economic success.”
If Marketing Liverpool does manage to convert lookers to bookers, the city could see a major influx of visitors this summer. But does that bring a risk to transmission rates?
“The big change is the vaccine roll-out but we’re taking a steady approach and making sure businesses are still a safe environment,” says Chris. “That will be front of mind and then we’ll be able to react against any changes in data which give us an indication there is a problem looming.”
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