It’s Jubilee Year, so which are Britain’s “best” Cities?

While London and Edinburgh retain their crowns as the UK’s top tourist capitals, some of Britain’s more industrial cities are on the rise as new tourist attractions now.

According to VisitBritain which analysed the UK’s tourist destinations last year, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and most recently, Bristol, are emerging as the new must-see places on a visit to Britain. The rise in visitors to these destinations is highlighted in a survey of overnight stays by overseas visitors in UK cities during 2011 by VisitBritain, the UK’s official tourist agency.

With the Olympics now just around the corner, London will be very much on the global map this year. The VisitBritain researchers analysed all types of visits and the survey reveals London came out top – no surprises there, of course – with 15.2 million overseas visitors staying in the city in 2011 and Edinburgh with 1.3 million took second place. The Scottish capital has long been a magnet for American, Canadian and Japanese visitors, with Edinburgh’s legendary castle and its arts and comedy festival in August always high on the must-see list.

On its way up in the rankings is Manchester which has quite a few new attractions to offer visitors to the city in addition to its two famous football teams. The city’s ultra-modern landmark buildings include the Lowry Centre, the brand new BBC media centre which is open to visitors and it also has some serious world-class shopping, all of which helped it take third place with 936,000 visits (up 15 per cent on 2010).

In fourth place is Birmingham with 732,000 visitors who have been visiting the city for its vibrant arts scent, major exhibition centres and fantastic shopping. Birmingham’s well known Bullring is home to some of the best designer labels around and the centre also has two dozen different restaurants which have helped make it a “day out” destination.
Liverpool overtook Glasgow to take the number five spot. Famous all over the world for its Beatles heritage, it’s been dubbed the UK capital of pop and has a whole host of cultural and architectural attractions on offer, as well as its easy going, friendly feel which makes it a very welcoming city to visit.

Oxford, one of the UK’s two learning capitals, attracted a lot of foreign visitors to its cloistered collegiate city, too, while other cities who featured strongly but didn’t quite make the top ten included Leeds, Cardiff, Aberdeen, Windsor, Carlisle, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newquay, Harrogate and Cheltenham.

Patricia Yates, Strategy and Communications Director for VisitBritain said: “These results confirm international visitors who might come here because of the global appeal of London are starting to appreciate our vibrant cities outside the capital, and the very different offerings of Edinburgh Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

“In such a key year to showcase Britain, and all that our visitors can experience here, VisitBritain’s GREAT image and tactical campaigns in key inbound markets ensures that tourism growth, economic benefits and jobs are delivered right across Britain.”

For tourist guides and information about some of Britain’s most historic and scenic spots, see www.visitbritain.com

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