The West Midlands has emerged as an important region for the MICE industry in the UK. A recent report revealed that event delegates spent €2.76 billion (£2.3 billion) in in the area in 2019.
Over ten million local, national and international event delegates visited the West Midlands in 2019, as reported by RJS Associates for the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC). It is estimated that around 105,000 MICE events occurred in 2019, adding up to 14.5 million days spent by delegates in the region. In addition to this, the area’s business tourism industry has supported 65,000 full-time positions.
Research to inform programme for West Midlands
Findings from this research will inform a new Business and Tourism Programme for the West Midlands. Birmingham will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer, providing a range of economic opportunities to the city and greater region. It is thought that this new programme will equip the West Midlands with the necessary resources to take advantage of this international event and the opportunities it will provide.
“Birmingham and the West Midlands is a modern, exciting and diverse destination”, said Steve Knight, senior business manager at the WMGC. “This new research highlights that the meetings and events industry remains a crucial sector, both pre and post-pandemic, for the West Midlands and the people who live and work here”.
2022 to be a big year for Birmingham
Twenty-twenty-two is set to be a big year for Birmingham. The aforementioned Commonwealth Games will put a big spotlight on the city and the surrounding areas. Twenty-one international associations are due to take part in the event, including Australia, India and Trinidad and Tobago. It will be the third time England will host the games, after London in 1934 and Manchester in 2002. City officials described the Commonwealth Games as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the West Midlands on a global stage”.
There is also the Birmingham 2022 Festival, a city-wide cultural programme that will run for six months, from March to September. Officials note that the event will “harness the moment of the Games to shine a spotlight on the region’s cultural sector”. There are hopes to engage 2.5 million people in-person and online with the event. A reported 250 projects have been commissioned, including 150 community-led efforts funded by Birmingham City Council.
In addition to this, the city will host the Volunteer Expo in May, the World Congress on Railway Research in June and the Conservative Party Conference in October.
Increasing business activity in West Midlands
Aside from Birmingham, other areas of the West Midlands are also enjoying an increase in business activity. It is reported that output from West Midlands firms increased for the 11th month in a row, as of December 2021. A report from NatWest PMI outlined the fact that output has grown in the private sector, with companies looking to replace leavers in anticipation of a rise in demand through 2022.
This follows a year of major business headlines for the region in 2021. Birmingham’s financial services market was boosted after Goldman Sachs opened a new hub in the city centre. The hub is home to the engineering division for the investment bank, and has reportedly provided hundreds of jobs for the business district.
As well as this, local Premiership football club Aston Villa received significant investment from its billionaire owners in 2021. The club remains debt free thanks to over €275 million invested in recent years. With international partnerships and a large workforce, the club remains an important part of the West Midlands not just socially, but economically too.