This week, Birmingham is playing host to the Prime Minister and his Conservative Party for their Annual Conference. Taking place at the ICC, the conference is expected to host over 13,000 delegates along with 1,600 national and international media bodies, all helping to put the UK’s second city on the map.
Conferences of this scale are thought to bring many positive impacts to our city, such as increased employability from the surge in demand for hospitality and leisure facilities in Birmingham. CEO of Marketing Birmingham, Neil Rami, has said that the Conservatives’ return to the city (for the third year running!) is a ‘clear endorsement of their confidence in the city’s ability to deliver first-class events’.
Major events for the city, such as this political conference, play a key role in bringing influential visitors and media to the city, hopefully resulting in the building of international relationships and business networking for the region. Mr Rami also stated: ‘the Conservative Conference is yet another opportunity for the city to get in the limelight, boost its reputation and show its 13,500 guests – and a vast media presence – what it has to offer.’
Last year Birmingham’s visitor numbers reached a high of 33.5 million, helping boost the value of its visitor economy to £4.9 billion, and it is hoped that this figure is to increase again this year by utilising all areas of the ICC and many areas of our local economy in the form of hotel, leisure and hospitality spend. In addition to the main conference, which will close with a speech from the Prime Minister, there will also be over 500 fringe events taking place which will see staff delivering 12 months worth of events in four days.
Despite all of these positive offerings, we must also consider the inevitable political protests that such a large conference will bring with it, for example activists dressed as the Grim Reaper stormed Labour’s Manchester Conference last week to protest against the illegal blacklisting of construction workers. In Birmingham we already have rowdy and raucous political protesters gathering on the streets outside the ICC; increasing security risks, road closures and traffic in the city.
Also, protesters have taken to Twitter in force using the tag #cpc12 in a political free-for-all which surrounds the city’s name with mixed political opinions. This potential negative association to the city poses the question of how these images of unruly crowds, traffic and dispute, can reflect on Birmingham’s tourism industry.
Nick Morgan, our CEO said: ‘This national political conference helps keep the city’s profile high both nationally and internationally. Time after time Birmingham has demonstrated its ability to orchestrate major events, therefore attracting other leading organisations to hold their events here. The event is expected to generate over £16.5million which can only be of benefit to the local economy in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
‘Like any other political events of this size, protests are unavoidable. It is how our city reacts and successfully manages the riots that will be publicised, and this should again promote Birmingham’s ability to effectively host national events.’
What are your thoughts on the impact that large scale events have on cities and their tourism infrastructure? Get in touch on twitter via @bigcatevents
Posted by: AnnaBigCat on