VisitBritain chief executive Tom Wright urges the industry to get behind Liverpool as it gears up for its year as European Capital of Culture
Liverpool has unveiled its plans for celebrating its European Capital of Culture year in 2008. The city will highlight the maritime heritage, art, live performance, music and multicultural festivals that together constituted its winning formula.
Last week six vibrant themes were revealed: "The Source" represents Liverpool's long maritime heritage and brings the International Tall Ships Race to the Mersey. "An Ever-Changing Canvas" sees the Turner Prize being held at the Tate Liverpool gallery - leaving London for the first time since 1984. The gallery will also showcase the UK's first comprehensive exhibition of work by Gustav Klimt.
Innovative street performances will create "A Place of Inspiration", while the city's musical might will be illustrated in "The Beat of a Different Drum" with the once-in-a-lifetime waterfront concert Liverpool Sound and talent search Streetwaves. "The Pulse of the City" will profile the city's international multicultural festivals and "Winning Spirit" will encompass the Open Championship, the European Seniors' Boxing Championships and the World Firefighters' Games.
But this is not just a celebration for Liverpool, it's also the starting gun that will begin in earnest the race towards the UK's Olympic and Paralympic games in 2012.
By working with Liverpool to raise the profile of Britain's cultural appeal through and beyond 2008, as well as forging relationships with all parts of our industry, VisitBritain aims to surpass the success of Sydney and Barcelona and set new standards in integrating tourism opportunities into the Olympic and Paralympic experience.
That means attracting more international visitors from more markets spending more money in Britain. It also means attracting the younger visitors associated with sports events and giving them an experience that brings them back throughout their lifetime.
Liverpool 2008 will undoubtedly drive forward Britain's decade of opportunity and help truly reflect the unrivalled tourism experiences to be enjoyed here, and the hospitality industry must get behind Liverpool and back it 100%. Without your full support, promotion of, and enthusiasm for, the Capital of Culture, the country will not fully capitalise on the opportunities ahead of us.
What do you like most about Liverpool?
Francis Daley, manager, Cavern Club, Liverpool "The people, and our sense of humour, but it's also a unique city. We've got two football teams, two cathedrals, one of the biggest racecourses in the world, the second biggest Chinatown in Britain, we're the city with the most number ones in the charts and we make Lambrini wine - although I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing."
Warren Bradley, leader, Liverpool City Council "The thing I love most about Liverpool is its people. They are so passionate about their city and really have a desire to succeed. Liverpool has had it hard for many years, and at last there's a sense of positivity among its people and they have been given the opportunity to shine."
Michael Winchmann, chef-proprietor, Michael's restaurant, Birkdale "The main difference between Liverpool and London, where I've also worked, is the lifestyle - it's not so much of a rat race and the people are much friendlier and more relaxed around here. You can even drive around in your car. The weather is also very similar - it's not the grim North."
John Campbell, executive chef, the Vineyard at Stockcross "Liverpool is an incredibly diverse city in terms of its culture, people and architecture. There are many micro-cultures in the city. Liverpool has also become increasingly trendy both in terms of its nightlife and its fashion. The days where the stereotypical scouser was a man dressed in tracksuit bottoms with curly hair are long gone."