The West Midlands welcomed 141.2 million visitors in 2022, topping the previous record set before the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to major events such as the Commonwealth Games.
The figures represent a 38% increase in tourist numbers in 2021, and a 5% rise compared to 2019 data, which was the last research to be carried out before the tourist industry was impacted by the pandemic.
For the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, a record 1.5 million spectators bought tickets for events, making it the most popular Commonwealth Games ever to be hosted in the UK. More than five million people came to Birmingham city centre during Games-time – a 200% increase on the same period 12 months earlier.
Spending by visitors to the West Midlands in 2022 rose to £14.1bn, up by £4bn (39%) from 2021 and £1bn (7%) more than pre-Covid figures in 2019. Tourists spent most on the West Midlands’ retail (41%), food and drink (21%) and recreational (15%) offer, when visiting the region.
Other major events bringing crowds to the West Midlands in 2022 included the Birmingham 2022 Festival (March – September); the British Art Show 9 in Wolverhampton (January – April); Coventry UK City of Culture (until May); the Sandwell & Birmingham Mela (August); the Rugby League World Cup in Coventry (October); and Crufts at the NEC (March).
The findings were revealed by the West Midlands Growth Company – the region’s economic development agency – and independent tourism research body Global Tourism Solutions.
A separate study conducted earlier this year found that Birmingham 2022 contributed at least £870m to the UK economy.
The West Midlands Growth Company chief executive Neil Rami said, “Our three-year global Business and Tourism Programme capitalised on the halo effect of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, targeting UK, Australian, Canadian and Indian visitors. By delivering more than 400 travel trade meetings and developing new travel trade bookable products, we have raised the profile of the West Midlands’ tourism destinations. Evidence has shown that our activity has positively changed how the region is perceived domestically and overseas.”