CT Consults

Manchester – The rise of a Northern cultural powerhouse

Woman looking at helicopter covered in pink feathers

The challenge

“For me for some time now, all roads have been leading to Manchester”.

So said Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in 2009. That was the year we launched creativetourist.com, the independent, cultural voice of the city, and the first in a series of collaborative tourism marketing initiatives that have supported its changed international reputation.

Columned entrance to classical style building, Manchester Central Library, two banners hanging between columns advertising Everything Everything - Chaos to Order.

Our response

Collaboration is about mindset and relies on generous, ambitious leadership, which Manchester has in spades. Cluster activity created our agency. Today, a range of partners are involved from cultural organisations to tourism networks, hoteliers and universities. Through Manchester’s Cultural Destinations programme, managed by Marketing Manchester on behalf of the cultural tourism partnership, we worked closely with all partners to share messages and itineraries for international PR and travel trade familiarisation trips; converting academic tourists to leisure and culture; developed appealing new ways of experiencing the city (events, trails, itineraries); created new online bookable product with some of the city’s museums and galleries; and a behind the scenes B2B integrated online listings platform – CultureHosts – to develop the cultural confidence and knowledge of visitor-facing colleagues in hotels and other centres. 

Since then, channelling Manchester’s collaborative spirit and infectious energy, we now count a diverse range of cultural organisations, tourism agencies, networks, hoteliers and universities in our cultural destination partnership.

Kickstarting a new approach

There is now an increasingly embedded approach with city partners and Marketing Manchester as cultural messages and visits are routinely integrated into itineraries for international PR and familiarisation trips and the cultural sector recognised politically as a core driver for the city region’s tourism economy. CultureHosts now powers the listings to our creativetourist.com, powers the cultural listings for visitmanchester.com and Manchester City Council’s new resident facing what’s on website Loads To Do and is being rolled out in other parts of the UK including Wakefield, Southend and Leeds to name a few. 

Theatre entrance lit at night, pedestrians passing at street level
Creative Tourist has earned its reputation as one of the city’s leading cultural initiatives. We have worked with the team since the project’s inception and will continue to do so as we know the importance of cultural tourism to Manchester. Given the success we have seen in Manchester, I’m not surprised there is such demand for CTConsults’s expertise from other parts of the country.”

Andrew Stokes, England Director, VisitBritain

Major new investment

Helped to secure over £350,000 of Arts Council England investment in cultural tourism activity

Changing perceptions

Manchester's profile within the national and international media has positively changed and coverage now regularly references the city as a cultural destination of significance

New cultural tourism products

Created a series of new museum and gallery tours on sale for international visitors via visitmanchester.com

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