International Tourism in Manchester, UK

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Manchester is one of the most popular cities in the United Kingdom. Manchester is classified as an industrial city as it is a product of industrial development. The city’s economy generates £56 billion annually making it one of the most important in the UK. It is ranked at the third position behind London and Edinburgh among the most popular cities in the UK for international visits. The city receives an approximately 1.15 million visit annually from international tourists. This paper has focused on visits by international tourists in Manchester, UK and highlights destinations for family visitors in the city. Some of the top attraction sites that families can visit include the Lowry, Museum of Science and Industry, National Football Museum, Manchester Museum, and the Manchester Art Gallery. A field trip across the city revealed it as an exciting place that offers a range of attraction cites for families, cultural groups, youth, and even international visitors. The study used observation as the primary data collection method and targeted family visits. The field trip revealed Manchester as a perfect city to explore for families. Recommendations are offered in the final section where Manchester must develop a comprehensive and well-functioning transport network across the city.

Table of Contents


Executive Summary. 2

1.0 Introduction. 4

2.0 Theoretical Background. 5

3.0 Field Methods. 6

4.0 Findings. 6

Primary – Observation. 6

Secondary - Literature. 7

5.0 Conclusions and Recommendations. 9

International Tourism & Hospitality Management

1.0 Introduction

Tourist cities are classified into four main categories on the basis of the attractions and facilities that are present in them. Bramwell and Rawding (1996, p.203) list capital cities, industrial cities, high-amenity cities, and major attractive cities as the main categories. In the United Kingdom, there are several cities that fall under the different categories. One of the major cities is Manchester and is grouped among the industrial cities. Duranton and Puga (2014, p.814) explain that this city is the product of industrial development and has a significant industrial role in the UK as its economy generates £56 billion every year in gross value added (GVA). Furthermore, Manchester has a huge population and facilities that attract tourists from both the domestic and international market. Today, Manchester is an important tourism attraction city in the United Kingdom. According to Campbell (2016, p.219), the city is ranked behind London and Edinburgh to be the third most popular in the UK for international visits. Manchester receives an approximately 1.15 million visit every year from international tourists who come to visit top attraction sites such as the Lowry, Museum of Science and Industry, National Football Museum, Manchester Museum, and the Manchester Art Gallery. Furthermore, there are business and conferences events that generate about £823 million every year and support more than 22, 500 jobs. This paper focuses only on international tourist to Manchester.

Law (1994, p.188) makes a distinction between international tourists and international visitors. International tourist is a temporary visitor to a country for more than 24 hours with the motive of either leisure or business while an international visitor comes to a new country and resides there for no longer than 12 months. This research study targeted the international tourists who come to Manchester as a family irrespective of their purpose of visit. Families form an important fraction of the visitors in the Greater Manchester.

2.0 Theoretical Background

Incoming tourists have an enormous economic significance to the city Manchester. The city is a major economic force in the UK and serves as an important cultural, heritage, and sporting centre. The arrivals and departures recorded at the Manchester Airport reveal an increase in the number of visitors which makes the tourism industry important to the city’s economy. Authorities are focused on developing Manchester city into a leading leisure, learning, and business destination for international and domestic visitors. Tourism contributes greatly to Manchester city’s goals to achieve a sustainable economic growth and become one of the premier cities in the whole of the European region. Joppe (2003, p.275) argues that a strong visitor economy can play a key role in strengthening the global distinctiveness of the city, improving the quality of life, and strengthen Manchester’s world ranking as a place to visit, live, and invest. In addition, the visitor economy will help solve issues such as youth unemployment. Waligo, Clarke, and Hawkins (2013, p.348) state that in the United Kingdom one in twelve jobs is either indirectly or directly sustained by tourism.

Research within the tourism industry has been linked particularly in the city of Manchester. A qualitative technique will be applied to examine observable attractions for international tourists in Manchester. According to Divinagracia L., Divinagracia M., and Divinagracia G. (2012, p.89), a systems-based approach is relevant for the study of tourism and other social sciences as it enables examination of the structures and relationships within which individuals and objects operate and exist. Therefore, this research uses qualitative technique within the systems framework with the goal of understanding what influences international tourists to visit Manchester.

3.0 Field Methods

Greater Manchester, UK is an exciting place to visit in the country as it offers a range of attraction cites for families, cultural groups, youth, and even international visitors. Manchester is a perfect city to explore as it offers a warm welcome for everybody who visits the place. A field trip across the city helped me discover new and amazing places including restaurants, neighbourhoods, and beautiful sceneries of old and modern buildings. There are plenty of places to visit including galleries and museums that are free to enter. Furthermore, the city is a perfect shopping destination that attracts a huge number of domestic and international visitors. This research is an exploratory and is supported by a qualitative approach. The initial phase of primary data collection involved a field trip in Manchester, UK. There exist various methods of collecting data that can be employed but I chose observation as the primary approach. An observation was used to collect data on the attractions for international tourists. Throughout the extensive observations, I used photographs as the data collection method as various places in order to capture the setting of the environment.

4.0 Findings

Primary – Observation

According to Richards (2014, p.126), holidays are recognized as a joint practice among friends and family members. People once in a while cease their everyday work and have a break with their families to relax in different places around the world (Hall 2016, p.305). Manchester presents a wide range of opportunities for families, youth, cultural groups, and professionals to visit. The Lawry is the most visited place in the Greater Manchester. It is a waterside theatre and a gallery complex that is located at Salford Quays. The Lawry stands out from its unique structure and the stunning views that a visitor gets across the ship canal in Manchester. The gallery section contains a broad collection of several artists including LS Lowry. Museum of science and industry is another popular place that receives a huge number of international tourists. The museum has stored the rich history of the industrial revolution that is linked to the city of Manchester. There are outstanding valuable items stored here such as a replica of the first program computer. Manchester Art Gallery is housed in an 1823 building located on Mosley Street. There is a collection of more than 25,000 objects in this city centre art gallery. National Football Museum is based in the Urbis building where it has occupied more than four floors. The museum has stored great pieces of football history and a number of interactive games and exhibitions that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Manchester Museum is located at the University of Manchester on Oxford Road. The museum offers a rich collection of historical, cultural, and archaeological items that were collected from across the world.

Secondary - Literature

The tourism industry has contributed greatly to England's economy with more than £84 billion spent by both domestic and inbound visitors in 2012. Furthermore, the industry accounts for 2.7 million jobs which form about 10 percent of the total job market. Business tourism has made a considerable direct and indirect contribution to the prosperity of Manchester. Manchester is a strong brand that has maintained its values since the industrial revolution period. Here great and remarkable world achievements occurred such as the world’s first ever art exhibition was held and the ship canal was built. These events have placed the Greater Manchester on the top of the world map and a place where a substantial number of people want to visit at least once in their lifetime. Today, Manchester Airport handles more than 20 million passengers annually and has aspirations to grow its capacity in order to meet the demand of visitors. Manchester holds a great potential as a tourist attraction site for domestic and international visitors, especially for family visitors.

The city has strengthened its position in the global tourism by hosting a series of sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and Olympic football matches in 2012. Furthermore, the city is the home of great and successful football teams such as Manchester United and Manchester City that have millions of followers across the world as they play in the Premier and Champions leagues. Other sports-related attractions include the National Football Museum that was opened in 2012 and high profile sporting events including the Great City Games and NBA basketball. There are cultural events, concerts, and exhibitions that are held across the city. Furthermore, places such as the Lowry, the Palace Theatre, the Phones4u Arena, and the Bridgewater Hall are frequently drawing large numbers of visitors into the city. The city also has strong retail offers in its city centre that include Manchester Arndale which is the largest inner city shopping mall in the UK. Other key retail attractions in the city include Bolton and Bury markets and the award-winning Trafford Centre.

The city has laid out a vision through the Greater Manchester Strategy that it hopes to achieve by 2020 (The Manchester Partnership 2018, online). Manchester is focused on establishing a new model for sustainable economic growth where its economy will be founded around a greener city that has established more connections. The residents will have an opportunity to benefit from and contribute to a continuous success. The Manchester Partnership (2018, online) clarifies that this strategy is focused on the visitor economy and will help create employment opportunities, by maintaining and increasing the city’s competitive advantage, by contributing to building a distinctive sense of the Greater Manchester, and by raising the profile of the city in the global scene as a place where one can live, invest, and visit.

5.0 Conclusions and Recommendations

This paper has focused on understanding international tourism in Manchester, UK. The paper has revealed the stunning destinations that families can visit and highlighted how Manchester is focused on delivering growth in its visitor economy. The destinations in the city offer compelling reasons for families to visit as they provide the international tourists with high-quality experiences, opportunities to stay longer, and experience more. However, the city can undertake more actions to grow the tourism industry. One important strategy is for the city to develop a comprehensive and well-functioning transport network across Manchester. McKinsey Global Institute (2011, p.49) and Albalate and Bel (2010, p.428) state that improvements to transport networks available in a tourist city contribute to the attraction of more international family visitors. Therefore, it is essential that authorities in Manchester aim to develop an integrated transport network that is healthier, safer, economically competitive, and inclusive. Maitland and Newman (2004, p.346) add that improvements to the transport sector will enhance and strengthen the links between communities, improve connectivity, and add vitality to the city. Finally, the city should be focused on developing its long-term future as a sustainable low-carbon environ. MacKillop (2012, p.245) explains that the climate conditions available in the city determine the number of visitors that are attracted to Manchester. Hodson, Marvin, and Bulkeley (2013, p.1417) support the recommendation that organizations should work in collaboration with the households to ensure they improve the status of the city. They should aim to create opportunities and plans for Manchester to be among the best cities in the work so that individuals visiting the city with their families can enjoy.


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Campbell, S. (2016) ‘Green Cities, Growing Cities, Just Cities?: Urban Planning and the Contradictions of Sustainable Development’, in Readings in Planning Theory: Fourth Edition, pp. 214–240.

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Richards, G. (2014) ‘Creativity and tourism in the city’, Current Issues in Tourism, 17(2), pp. 119–144.

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January 19, 2024

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