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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Multi-billion pound lift for Liverpool

By Mary Gahan
BBC News Online business reporter

Liverpool's super lamb banana sculpture
Liverpool expects a leap in tourism
The name Liverpool conjures up images of the Beatles, football and an industrial region that has long been in decline.

Now the city that was once the world's biggest port is on the up again after being named European Capital of Culture for 2008.

The award was designed to raise the profile of the arts but it will also give the whole area a lift.

Liverpool's backers believe that winning the title could lead to 14,000 new jobs and 2bn ($3.3bn) of investment.

The event could also bring in an extra 1.7 million visitors who would spend approximately 200m.

"It's going to be pretty substantial for businesses here," says Peter Ralphs, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.

New buildings

The title helped transform the UK's last city of culture, Glasgow, from a declining manufacturing city to a centre for tourism and conferences.

There was no such thing really as a tourist in Glasgow before 1990 and now there is a tourist industry
Christine Hamilton, Centre for Cultural Policy Research

The events staged by the 1990 winner were said to have generated up to 5,580 new jobs and boosted the regional economy by 14.3m.

Arts benefited with theatre ticket sales up by 40% and a 50% increase in foreign visitors.

The cultural title also led to the creation of Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall, a new Museum of Education and the restoration of the McLellan Galleries.

Glasgow is now the third most visited city in Britain behind London and Edinburgh.

Change of image

Christine Hamilton, a director of Glasgow's Centre for Cultural Policy Research, says the title had a short-term impact on the city, bringing in a lot of investment.

Liverpool's waterfront
The real benefits to business will be from the massive spin-out from tourism
Peter Ralphs, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce

"In the longer term, the contribution that city of culture made to Glasgow was in the way it created a sense of confidence amongst its citizens and its business community and therefore helped to generate new businesses in Glasgow."

This led to a shift from an industrial city to a service sector and retail city.

"Also it helped to create an image of the city abroad... which meant it has now become a tourist destination.

"There was no such thing really as a tourist in Glasgow before 1990 and now there is a tourist industry."

But she says it is difficult to determine how much of that success is due to the city of culture title because cheap flights have also played an important role.

Spurring on

Liverpool's estimates of new jobs, investment and tourism, are based on Glasgow's experience.

"The real benefits to business will be from the massive spin-out from tourism which involves hotels and the retail spend," says Mr Ralphs of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.

An artist's impression of the new waterfront building
Projects such as the Fourth Grace could have a new urgency
"And in simply staging a year-long event there's a local benefit to businesses acting as suppliers and traders."

One reason for Liverpool's win is that it impressed the judges with the big regeneration programme that is already underway.

It includes projects such as the controversial Fourth Grace, a new building to take a prominent place on the waterfront skyline alongside the Three Graces - the Liver, Port of Liverpool and Cunard buildings.

There is also a 700m plan to redevelop the city's retail centre.

Mr Ralphs says that winning the culture title will be a spur for the city to make sure these projects move ahead and are ready by 2008.

He thinks the title will help improve Liverpool's image elsewhere in the UK and abroad.

And that will help persuade businesses to invest in the city and create jobs.

Liverpool named Capital of Culture
04 Jun 03  |  Entertainment

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