Destination Manchester
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The past couple of years have seen a phenomenal transformation in Manchester’s sporting and cultural life. Not only did the City stage what’s widely agreed to be the best Commonwealth Games ever but an unrivalled flourishing of galleries, museums, visitor attractions and festivals have added some real depth to an increasingly vibrant cultural life. 

Visitors to Manchester are adding almost 2bn to the Manchester economy according to a GTS study commissioned by Marketing Manchester. The research revealed the number of tourists visiting Manchester in 2001 had increased by nine per cent since 1999 and five per cent compared with 2000. Altogether more than 81 million people visited Manchester in 2001, boosting the City’s economy by 1.7bn. 

Attractions such as Urbis, the revamped Manchester Art Gallery, The Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry Arts Centre were, it was found, the main reason for many people’s visits. Crowd pulling events such as the UEFA Champions League final and the Europride Festival will undoubtedly play a major role in boosting tourism in the City by the end of this year. 


Manchester, now officially the UK’s most bohemian city, is the gay capital of Europe for ten days from August 15 as the biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) event comes to town.  

EuroPride Manchester 2003 is the tenth EuroPride and the City joins Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Rome in hosting a festival that celebrates LGBT life. The only other time the event was held in England was in London a decade ago, but in 2003 it comes to what has been titled the nation’s friendliest gay city. 

EuroPride organisers estimate some 300,000 people will take part in the packed event programme, with more than half coming from overseas. With an increase in hotel income, the restaurant, club and bar activity particularly during the first weekend and the final ‘Big Weekend’, it is calculated that the event will be worth some 22m to Manchester’s burgeoning cultural economy. 

The final weekend (22 – 25 August) centres around the gay Village. A six foot high barrier will be in place and access to the event site is by pre-purchased ticket only. Income from ticket sales will cover security and fencing and the remainder will be paid out in full to Operation Fundraiser, the organisation responsible for raising funds for HIV and LGBT charities. With ticket sales at this stage looking extremely robust, the Operation Fundraiser target of 30,000 to charities and organisations looks realistic. 


The Imperial War Museum North, in Salford, has welcomed over 450,000 visitors and achieved its first annual target after only six months since it opened in July last year, shortly before the Commonwealth Games. Summer 2003 sees events such as the museum’s first birthday celebrations and a programme of exhibitions to coincide with Europride 2003 in August is set to attract more visitors. 

Connected to the Lowry by Parkman & Casado’s footbridge, the spectacular 28m museum building is the first building in the UK designed by internationally-acclaimed architect, Daniel Libeskind. Clad in aluminium, IWM North is a visionary emblem of war and reflects the innovative approach of the entire project. The stunning exterior is based on the concept of a globe shattered by war and conflict.


Closed for four years, Manchester Art Gallery opened to great acclaim last year with a new 35m extension. The reborn gallery, which celebrated its first birthday on 25 May this year, has exceeded all original visitor targets. Initial targets of 150,000 visitors were reached within three months of the re-opening and figures since then are estimated to have hit 400,000. Events such as the UEFA Champions League Final and Europride in August will no doubt see a further increase to these visitor numbers. 

Public reaction to the city’s reorganised and extended gallery has been overwhelmingly positive. In a recent visitor survey, 91 per cent of respondents agreed Manchester Art Gallery was something to be proud of with 93 per cent of visitors intending to return and 92 per cent stating they would recommend the gallery to friends and family. 


An elegant addition to the City skyline and one which is fast becoming one of its most recognised buildings is Urbis. Part of Manchester’s 42m millennium quarter, Manchester’s museum of urban life contains exhibitions, a shop and restaurant, and has attracted 250,000 visitors since opening last year.  

On top of the creation of 2,000 jobs, City Council-owned assets around Urbis have already generated an extra 10m for the council and that is expected to double over the next 12 months. 


Hot on the heels of the triumph of Manchester’s Commonwealth Games came the success of the Champions League final in May, when AC Milan’s victory over compatriot team Juventus, gave added weight to the City’s reputation for sporting and organisational excellence. The event itself, which attracted 50,000 visitors, was worth some 15m to the City.  

Manchester’s hosting of the iconic Final combined sporting excellence with a European culture-fest which saw crowds of fans from all over the globe soaking up the Manchester sunshine and enjoying the atmosphere. Fans from both teams mingled peacefully whilst being entertained by street entertainers. Manchester’s hotels were filled to capacity and other tourist and leisure attractions within the city benefited.

The Final on 28 May also contributed to the busiest day in Manchester Airport’s history. It is estimated that between 28-29 May an additional 242 commercial flights carried an additional 43,438 extra passengers in and out of the airport. With this boost of extra business and the airport’s current passenger growth projections, Manchester Airport is said to be on track to break the 20 million-passenger target for the financial year 2003/4.  


A year on from the spectacular 2002 Commonwealth Games, research carried out for the City Council reveals some of the long lasting benefits for the city.  

  • 250,000 additional visits have been made to sports facilities in the city
  • 31,500 places on sports development courses per year are expected to provided by the city’s new sports facilities 
  • A 6,000-seater arena will be constructed in a 3.5m development at Sportcity to create an athletics stadium hosting 60 event days per year 
  • Public investment in the Games and the associated regeneration activity increased from 640m to 670m
  • 570m investment in East Manchester 

  • 35m of inward investment attributable to Manchester’s raised profile over next three years 
  • Legacy of the Games has helped Manchester and the North West secure over 600m of public and private investment. 
  • From the 25m contingency fund only 10m has been committed  
  • 300,000 new visitors a year will visit Manchester 
  • Estimated additional visitor spend of 18m per year 
  • 30 million people now consider Manchester a possible business and visitor destination