Conferencing in Manchester

All eyes were on Manchester last week as we welcomed the Conservative Party Annual Conference to the city. It’s now become a regular event in our calendar, taking place in Manchester every alternative year since 2009.

Politically, it’s an important occurrence for the city-region, putting Manchester in the national spotlight and helping our local leaders to turn government attention towards the issues that matter most to Greater Manchester. Issues like transport, skills and housing.

But of course it’s also hugely significant in terms of its significance on visitor economy. The conference brought around 12,000 delegates to the region, and was worth an estimated £30millon to the local economy.

When events of this scale come to Manchester, they bring with them huge value, as delegates spend in our hotels, bars, restaurants and shops. Then there’s value brought in through direct spend on the conference –for the costs of the venues, staff, catering, promotion and more.

This is why business tourism is a huge industry, attracting around 4.5million delegates to the city annually, generating £810m for Greater Manchester’s economy, and supporting around 22,000 direct jobs within Greater Manchester.

Thanks to the city region’s fantastic conference offer, and the incredible work done by Marketing Manchester’s Convention Bureau, Manchester regularly attracts large-scale national and international events like the Conservatives’ Conference.

However, as we move onwards and upwards, we want to set our sights on increasing the frequency that events of these scale and impact choose Manchester.

So I’m very proud to say that Marketing Manchester is currently working closely with VisitBritain on a national tourism bid for a potential sector deal as part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.

The objective of such a sector deal will be to secure government backing to unlock growth within the tourism sector by positioning it:

  • as an industry of choice to work in and develop skills;
  • as an industry that can support connectivity and transport infrastructure;
  • as an industry that is people-focused and can contribute to greater productivity;
  • and as an industry of the future, ripe for technological investment.

The sector deal is an opportunity for the tourism industry to work together and organise coherently around a future plan, post-Brexit, where it is going to be ever-more important to have an attractive tourism offer, both for EU nationals and otherwise.

I’m pleased to say that the key asks of the bid have now received sign off from The Tourism Industry Council (TIC), clearing the way for it to be taken forward for negotiation with government ministers.

Tourism is an incredibly competitive global industry, and Britain is currently being outspent by key competitors and losing global market share. With a tourism sector deal this gap could be closed.


Sheona Southern
Managing Director, Marketing Manchester