Birmingham has bagged a spot on Rough Guides’ ‘Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2015’, making it the only UK city featured on a list which includes New Orleans, Johannesburg and Hamburg.
The travel guide book series credited Birmingham, Britain’s second-to-largest city, with being an initially “purely industrial conurbation” that has “long outgrown the squalor and misery of its boom years” with its “revamped city centre, and a vibrant cultural life.”
Rough Guides compiles a list every year of the most exciting global destinations, with equal ranking attached to each location chosen. Lottie Gross from Rough Guides said, “From the vibrant Bull Ring markets to the fashionable creative quarter in Digbeth, Birmingham makes a worthy entry in the 2015 list for its cultural variety, excellent shopping and a buzzing live music scene.”
Birmingham saw a 32% increase in international visitors last year, “a greater increase than anywhere else in the UK”, according to Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services at Visit Birmingham. Aside from drawing crowds to the popular Bull Ring shopping centre and Cadbury World, Birmingham’s visitor increase may also be attributed to the enrolment of Malala Yousafzai, youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, into a Birmingham school. The city also houses Michelin star chefs Glynn Purnell, Richard Turner and Luke Tipping, and claims Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath and Alfred Bird, the inventor of custard powder, as famous Brummies.
The city’s highlights are still yet to come, as 2015 sees the launch of multiple attractions; the £150m opening of Britain’s first integrated destination leisure complex, Resorts World, the hosting of the England v Australia third Ashes Test Match at Edgbaston Stadium, and most notably, the completed £600m redevelopment of New Street Station.
“Birmingham is a great place to visit and with the new New Street Station nearing completion it just keeps getting better”, said Chris Montgomery, Network Rail’s project director for the Birmingham New Street project, adding that the station used to be “dark, unwelcoming and overcrowded with poor access for passengers” but assured visitors that they will be “impressed when they step off their trains after September next year when the station will be brighter and lighter and provide a great first impression of the city.”
After missing out on “its share of the limelight” to well-known UK locations such as Manchester and Liverpool, the authors of Rough Guides have said Birmingham is one of “Britain’s most cosmopolitan cities…along with its first-rate restaurant scene and nightlife, it’s well worth at least a couple of days.”
The city, with a population of over one million, has also been credited with being multicultural and multiracial, boasting the use of 94 languages and a non-white population percentage of 42%, according to Birmingham City Council’s 2011 census. Birmingham was also named one of New York Times’ ’45 Places to Go’ in 2012, and Visit Birmingham’s Gray has said its most recent shortlisting in Rough Guides “is testament to the city’s increasing appeal as one of the most attractive places in the world to visit.”
Rough Guides’ Top 10 cities to visit in 2015 Johannesburg (South Africa) Málaga (Spain) New Orleans (USA) Hamburg (Germany) Nizwa (Oman) Wellington (New Zealand) Belgrade (Serbia) Salta (Argentina) Birmingham (UK) Yangon (Myanmar)