Andy Street

In an exclusive interaction with Travel And Tour World, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands shares his views on how West Midlands is attracting international tourists throughout the year.

Travel And Tour World: The West Midlands is a popular place to live in. Tell us about the best places to live in the West Midlands.


Andy Street: If it’s diversity people are after, we have it – the West Midlands is a place where you can discover the world in a day. Located right in the middle of the United Kingdom, the region contains world-renowned cities – like Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Lichfield – while also being home to historic market towns like Dudley, West Bromwich, Solihull, Warwick and Walsall. But even then, much of the region is rural, meaning there are hundreds of villages – and thousands of acres of unspoilt English countryside – to explore.


Equally diverse are the people and communities who proudly call the West Midlands their home. We’ve warmly welcomed settlers, immigrants, incomers and refugees for centuries, which is why we’re one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the whole of Europe. It’s also why you’ll find people from nearly 200 different countries rubbing shoulders on our streets, sharing their distinctive experiences, insights and traditions.


This not only means you get to enjoy a kaleidoscope of different cultures and countries; it also gives the region a uniquely global, multicultural and inclusive perspective on everything it does. Whatever you’re into – or whatever you want to get into – you will most likely find it here.


Travel And Tour World: How will the travel and trade opportunities between India and England enhance and what is your expectation in the matter of tourist arrivals.


Andy Street: India has always been a great friend of the West Midlands. With a ‘living bridge’ of nearly 200,000 ethnic Indians living and working in the region, the West Midlands and India already enjoy a strong relationship, rooted in a shared cultural heritage and strong economic links.


Indian visitors are more likely to spend time in the West Midlands than other international visitors. The region ranks third among English regions for visits from India (an average of 47,000 in 2017-19) and nights spent (1.2 million), and fourth for visitor spend generating £40million, presenting a unique opportunity for the destinations to work together. With the world opening more, and new flight paths between India and Birmingham, we expect to see these numbers increase in coming years.

Our 2022 Perceptions Research shows that awareness of the West Midlands with Indian leisure travellers has increased from 84% last year to 90% in 2022. The country is a priority international market, on which we will focus future tourism activities and we look forward to working with our colleagues at Visit Britain at the next Destination Britain India showcase event to engage with India’s travel trade and gain market exposure.

India is also the UK’s second largest source of investment in terms of number of projects, and the West Midlands represents a significant portion of Indian FDI into the UK, with 57% of Indian investment into the UK in 2020 located in the West Midlands.

The region has already attracted some of India’s biggest companies, including Tata Motors, State Bank of India, Infosys, OLA, Enzen Global, Suprajit Group, Elder Pharmaceuticals, Microland, BSA, Switch Mobility and Firstsource.

There truly is tremendous potential for the West Midlands and India to collaborate even more closely as we move into 2023 to advance innovation for the benefit of both our societies and economies.

Travel And Tour World: Share with us about the leisure and sustainable tourism opportunities in West Midlands.


Andy Street: You don’t need to look any further than the West Midlands to see how importantly sustainability is regarded. In 2019, we set out our vision to make the West Midlands carbon-neutral by 2041, with a hugely ambitious five-year plan explaining how we can deliver a 33% reduction in carbon use across local transport, homes and businesses by 2026.


From trains and trams, to cars and buses, we’re leading the way in cleaner and greener transport and we’re advancing active travel alongside a dedicated Cycling and Walking Commissioner, exemplified by our popular region-wide cycle hire scheme.


In the tourism sector, we are awaiting approval for a sustainable destination approach to auditing and benchmarking our destinations across the West Midlands to create sustainable places to visit, meet, and live in. This builds on the news last month that the West Midlands Combined Authority was recognised alongside 121 cities across the globe for its bold leadership on environmental action and transparency, despite the pressures of a challenging global economic situation.


As we seek to tackle the climate emergency, we will continue to play our part in protecting the environment and driving forward the Green Industrial Revolution to ensure a positive legacy for everybody who comes to visit the West Midlands.


Travel And Tour World: Share with us the economic legacy of the Commonwealth Games that was held recently in Birmingham. How sports tourism flourished here during that time?


Andy Street : Recognised as one of the most successful Commonwealth Games of all time, Birmingham 2022 strengthened the West Midlands’ status as a world-class investment and tourism destination. We have shown the world what a vibrant, friendly, and inclusive place we are.


These Games set new standards for inclusion and sustainability – with more female medal recipients than male, a fully integrated para-sport programme and the greenest Games ever, supported by our public transport provision across rail, bus and bike rising to the challenge.


The event was the best-selling Commonwealth Games to be held in the UK with over 1.5 million tickets sold, hotels were at an average 85% occupancy, and it was the most watched Games on the BBC’s digital platforms with 57.1 million streams.


The significant core public investment in the Games of £778 million accelerated investment and regeneration in Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond. Alexander Stadium – home to the athletics and the breath-taking Opening and Closing Ceremonies – was transformed for the Games and communities to use, and Sandwell Aquatics Centre is providing elite and community swimmers and divers with a brand new, world-class facility. These venues will be enjoyed by many for years to come.


I’m delighted that since the Games we’ve already secured the Kabaddi World Cup in 2025, plus the European Athletics Championships in 2026. We see this as just the beginning. Next year alone, our sporting calendar will feature The Ashes, the World Trampoline Championships and the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) World Games.


After the spectacular Commonwealth Games were delivered on time and under budget, the Government recently agreed the under spend will be retained and spent in the region. This £60 million investment will support the region’s ambition to increase access to sport and culture, boost the West Midlands’ reputation as a world-class host for major events and drive inward investment and tourism.


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