THERE’S NOTHING COMMON ABOUT IT: Wild about the West Midlands
Senior British tourism leaders, along with a mayor, a Michelin chef, a couple of Canadian athletes, and what seemed like half the travel trade in Toronto, turned out for a major industry gala Thursday night to celebrate the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer, and to showcase the West Midlands region as great place to visit, whether or not it’s for the Games.
Taking place at the 1 Hotel Toronto (and preceded earlier in the day by a destination workshop and afternoon tea for travel agents at the Royal York), the event also gave attendees a chance to see (and be photographed with) the baton from the Queen’s Baton Relay, which is making its way across 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth ahead of this summer’s Games (July 28-Aug. 08).
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, “banged the drum” for the region, which is located in the heart of Britain and known for its vibrant cities, notably Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, and nearby Coventry, Britain’s City of Culture in 2021/22; beautiful countryside; and world-class tourism venues, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and Warwick Castle.
Street declared Birmingham and the surrounding region a must-visit tourist spot for Canadians, with its myriad of cultural gems, including the birthplace of Shakespeare, Cadbury’s chocolate factory, Industrial Revolution heritage (Black Country Museum), and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, as well being the area that inspired the popular Peaky Blinders television series.
Celebrity chef Glynn Purnell showed off his expertise of the West Midlands’ thriving food scene, which encompasses cuisine from around the world, with 11 Michelin-starred restaurants and another 27 venues awarded entry in the Michelin Guide 2021.
Besides the Commonwealth Games, the Birmingham 2022 Festival was launched at the start of March and continues to feature hundreds of creative commissions across the region. The six-month long celebration is a tribute to the creativity in the West Midlands and will involve hundreds of artists, and thousands of participants, communities, and audiences.
VisitBritain Chair Dame Judith Macgregor hailed the arrival of the Queen’s Baton Relay arriving in Canada in the run-up to Games, stating, “Canada is a very important inbound tourism market, we know there is pent-up demand for travel and the Games is a timely and valuable opportunity to highlight experiences that visitors can only have in Britain and to celebrate our friendship and connections as we welcome Canadians back to our shores.”
In the spirit of making connections across the globe, during the event a Commonwealth-wide relay of words and art, named the Relaytionship, was shown.
West Midlands-based poet Amerah Saleh has produced a spoken word manifesto as part of the artwork to inspire people around the world to contribute a word, image, or video to the artwork.
The unique piece of ‘hyper hybrid art’ is now inviting Canadian residents to add their own unique words to this evolving piece of artwork.
Canadians can contribute to the artwork and continue the relay of words HERE.
Prior to the pandemic close to 47,000 Canadian tourists visited the West Midlands annually and the total number of yearly visits by Canadian tourists has increased by approximately 52% between 2010 and 2019.
First published at Travel Industry Today