Liverpool’s tenure as the European Capital of Culture 2008 resulted in a record boost for hoteliers, with one million hotel beds sold and a total of 3.5 million first-time visitors.

Liverpool’s tourism sector also enjoyed average occupancy rates of 77% over the year, and a record 81% in October, with £176m in tourism spend generated and an overall economic benefit of £800m.

The city’s Capital of Culture programme also helped generate 15 million visits to cultural venues and events, up 30% rise on 2007.

Following this tourism success, Phil Redmond, the creative director of the Liverpool Culture Company and culture secretary Andy Burnham, announced plans to encourage domestic competition between UK cities every four years to host a year-long arts programme in the style of the European Capital of Culture.

The winner would also host major events including the Brit Awards, Baftas and the Turner Prize and Durham, Leeds and Birmingham have already expressed an interest.

Liverpool’s 08 events programme included the Turner Prize, the Stirling Prize, MTV Europe Music Awards, Liverpool Biennial, Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Sound concert, exhibitions on Gustav Klimt and Le Corbusier, Go Superlambananas and La Machine – the 50ft spider that attracted 5.2 million people to the city.

Hilton and Millennium announce new hotels in Liverpool >>

Liverpool to get £100m boost from Capital of Culture status >>

Culture victory brings Liverpool new hope >>

Liverpool calls on Michelin-starred chefs to boost city’s dining >>

By Gemma Sharkey

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