The north has never lacked tenacity, says Debbie Taylor, regional managing director at Macdonald Hotels and Resorts for the north west, which will only be enhanced by the Northern Powerhouse project
As a northerner who has worked across the globe, I feel an immense sense of pride to see the development of the north of England dominating the news agenda and becoming a top priority for the UK government.
We all agree that there have been some tough times in recent years, but now really is the time for the north to shine and maximise these opportunities. Recent media reports signal that the Northern Powerhouse will unlock economic growth across the whole of the north of England, revolutionise infrastructure and create thousands of jobs, but what does it mean for our industry?
For those seeking to attract business and leisure travellers, we should be excited as the Northern Powerhouse project is set to create some pretty dynamic opportunities.
The significant improvements to transport infrastructure, including faster train journey times from Manchester to Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Hull and the north east, will mean that business and leisure guests can get around the north more efficiently. As key northern cities will be
better connected, this will pool their strengths and bring in more business to hoteliers in those areas.
The development plans at Manchester and Newcastle International airports will help to attract a significant number of international visitors to these cities and the north in general. In 2014, almost one million international travellers visited Manchester and, with new flight routes from Asia and North America, we can expect this to increase even more for 2015/16.
But to really see the benefits, we must ensure we can cater for these international guests who often arrive and leave our hotels out of usual business hours. At Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, we offer a 24-hour check-in and check-out, along with chauffeur, to suit guests' flight times. This has proven to be extremely successful in attracting international guests.
The ambitious Northern Powerhouse plans are also drawing in lucrative investment to northern cities, opening up new overseas markets. For example, Manchester Airport has benefitted recently from a £130m ‘China cluster' project, which will provide a commercial base for Chinese businesses visiting the UK, and Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield are set to benefit from three major property projects from the Hualing Industry and Trade Group in Xinjiang.
I am sure hoteliers would agree the Northern Powerhouse can only be good news. These plans have generated optimism across the north west hoteliers' associations, where industry leaders are confident the plans will boost the tourism industry.
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