Manchester Named One of the World’s ‘Must See’ Places
With Manchester named one of the top 20 ‘must see’ places in the world by the New York Times, beating the likes of Miami, Tozeur and Budapest, it seems not everyone is following the sun. Manchester’s Finest looks beyond the grey skies to explore how the city’s ‘post-industrial anguish’ is attracting tourists across the globe in search of that Madchester experience.
Perhaps “the cold and gritty factory city” isn’t the best way to sell a place, but according to the influential paper that compiled the list, this is the catalyst that stimulated Manchester’s transformation from an industrial city to a bubbling cultural cauldron, “reinventing its famed music past”.
Coming in at number 20 on a list of 41 destinations, FAC251 and the Deaf Institute are name-checked as examples of venues that are carrying through Manchester’s nostalgia for its “favourite depressive sons”, like Joy Division and The Smiths, whom have done so much to define the city’s internationally-revered music scene.
While this is all splendid stuff, especially given that Manchester is placed above the likes of historic Dresden and supersized Singapore, it’s a shame the paper overly focuses on the city’s musical heritage, casting a heavy shadow over other tourist traps; where’s the International Festival, or Pride, or In the City, or the Museum of Science and Industry- all major cultural magnets that deserve a tip of the hat.
With the exception of London, which sits comfortably at number 7, Manchester remains one of the UK’s biggest tourist pulls; clocking 900,000 foreign visitors each year, the city is becoming internationally recognised for its memory-making mix of theatres, museums, events, restaurants and architecture, all creating fond and lasting impressions on those who explore what’s on offer.
Also working in Manchester’s favour is its title of Europe’s largest student city, significantly contributing to the 500,000 international undergraduates and postgraduates that come to the UK each year, pumping £1.5 billion into the national economy: there’s strong evidence that previous foreign students often return with friends and family, as tourists or on business.
But what lies ahead? Well, like many industries, tourism didn’t escape the punishment of the recession, and 2010 proved a year of mixed fortunes both globally and locally; according to figures from the regional development agency, Europe showed slow sector growth, with the number of inbound visits to the UK struggling and inevitably impacting on the North West as a result.
Competition within the industry is also set to get tougher: spending trends indicate that more and more cities across the UK and Europe are investing heavily in wooing domestic and foreign visitors as a way of leveraging themselves out of the economic pits.
Despite this, the fact that the New York Times, with an estimated 1 million readers, started spreading the news about Manchester’s virtues remains a great achievement for the city, and shows how much it has to give. Let’s hope this translates into more people arriving from across the pond in search of something more than sun, sea and sand – as Ian Brown said, all Manchester’s missing is a beach.
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