Marketing Manchester celebrates 25th anniversary

Marketing Manchester has celebrated a milestone birthday with a special event that brought guests together to reflect on the past 25 years and look forward to the future of the visitor economy in Greater Manchester.

The event at the Store Street Exchange within the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester, provided the opportunity for partners, colleagues, and friends of Marketing Manchester to come together and celebrate the past and look to the future of the organisation’s 25-year history.

Officially reaching the 25-year milestone earlier in the year, the decision was made to postpone celebrations due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, instead holding the event when people could gather in person once again.

Founded in 1996 to change perceptions and promote the city ahead of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Marketing Manchester became the official Tourist Board, or Destination Management Organisation (DMO) as it is now known, in 2004. It joined The Growth Company in 2014 with a widened scope to promote Greater Manchester as a place to visit, meet, invest, and study.

Over its 25-year history, Marketing Manchester has been a pioneering DMO, running the UK’s first LGBT campaign in 1999 as well as the first Sustainable Tourism campaign (which continues today in the form of our Greener Greater Manchester work).

In recent years, the organisation has supported successful sporting bids to Manchester, including the Cricket World Cup, The Euros and the upcoming Rugby League World Cup 2022.

It has led the way in securing large conferences such as the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), Children’s Global Media Summit, and the regular Conservative Party Conference.

There have also been some medal-winning moments, when Marketing Manchester led the ‘Manchester Garden’ display at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, bringing home a Silver Award; and in 2020, signed the first city-to-city partnership between Manchester and New York, which will bring many future opportunities for Greater Manchester’s tourism sector.

The celebration event (held on 17 November), welcomed special guests from Marketing Manchester’s 25-year collaborations, including the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Sir Richard Leese, outgoing Leader of Manchester City Council, and Cllr Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council and Vice chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

The event also welcomed Kumar Mishra, General Manager of The Edwardian Manchester, who have been a key prestige partner to the organisation for many years; plus, Michael Sheldon, General Manager of DoubleTree by Hilton, who were the generous hosts of the evening.

Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, and Mike Blackburn, Chair, also gave speeches reflected on the achievements of the organisation.

Speaking at the event, Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said: “The key to Marketing Manchester’s success over the past 25 years has been the ambition of our partners across Greater Manchester, who together have helped us pioneering this as a city-region where special things happen.

“The team at Marketing Manchester are always passionate about what they do, strive for excellence, and are considered to be one of the best DMOs in the country. It is their passion for this place that makes our organisation a success.

“I’d like to offer a massive thank you to all our partners, who have made things happen that we simply couldn’t do alone, and we look forward to what the next 25 years can bring for this fantastic city-region.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Marketing Manchester has defined the era, and made Manchester the place to be. You don’t get named the Third Best City in the World without doing something right, and we’re all indebted to the team.

“This 25-year milestone is really significant in showing what has been achieved for Manchester in that time, and we appreciate everything you do for us.”

Sir Richard Leese, outgoing Leader of Manchester City Council: “Marketing Manchester has had some remarkable achievements. I was there at the beginning 25 years ago when we had an ambition to be a world city, and 25 years later we are the 3rd Best City in the World, according to Time Out, and we should be grateful to Marketing Manchester for the work they’ve done to achieve that.”

Cllr Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council: “Marketing Manchester has a deep understanding of our city-region, and what sets us apart and makes us special. They make the case of why this is the place to do business and enjoy yourself, and the support of the team at Marketing Manchester has not gone unnoticed.”

Mike Blackburn, Chair of Marketing Manchester, said: “Thanks to all those who have been on the journey for the last 25 years. We have the next 25 years ahead and I have full confidence in the team to push Manchester ahead to an even bigger platform.”