The UK city break market is growing at the expense of visits to seaside, rural and historical locations, according to a new report.
Commissioned by Jurys Inns Hotel Group, which operates in 26 UK and Irish cities, the City Tourism Index ranks the tourism performance of the top 20 UK cities in 2000 and 2008.
Overall, average growth in foreign tourists to UK cities was 24% from 2000 to 2007, with average spend rising 27% from £9.3bn to £11.9bn.
While London remains the UK's strongest destination, with 47% of all inbound visits in 2007, some of the biggest winners are what Jurys Inns describes as ‘old industrial, Premiership cities', synonymous with popular football teams.
Liverpool saw foreign visitors jump by 186% from 190,000 in 2000 to 544,000 in 2007, while Glasgow was up 76%, Manchester +73% and Newcastle +54%.
Just behind these came Edinburgh, with growth of 47%, Nottingham (+45%), Birmingham (+35%) and Bristol (+31%), while Leeds rose to 13th place, having not previously featured in the in top 20 most visited cities.
In contrast, England's ‘history cities' have seen foreign tourist numbers decline, with Stratford and Coventry both dropping out of the 20.
York's 32% fall in overseas visitors pushed it from 10th in 2000 to 19th in 2007, while Bath (-7%) dropped from 11th to 15th.
Oxford saw visitor numbers increase by 12%, but despite this fell from 7th to 9th, while Cambridge recorded growth of 2% in foreign arrivals but slid from 8th to 10th.
Brighton is the lone seaside destination to feature in the City Index, with growth of 25% in foreign visits over the reporting period.
Meanwhile, UK city breaks by British consumers are down overall since 2000 because of the ‘negative impact of rapid budget airline growth'.
However, some cities have seen domestic visits rise significantly between 2000 and 2008, including Bristol (+71%), Liverpool (+58%) and Manchester (+53%).
And, despite declines in foreign visits, York emerged as the domestic success story having enjoyed 220% growth in domestic tourism between 2000 and 2008.
John Brennan, Jurys Inns Group chief executive, commented: ‘The story of the last decade has been the renaissance of the UK's former industrial cities into engines of tourism growth.
‘Our City Index demonstrates that city tourism has outperformed the industry as foreign and British visitors gravitate away from seaside, historical and rural destinations to the UK's more vibrant cities.
‘We forecast another £10bn in tourism growth for UK cities if they continue on the same trend to 2016.
‘Jurys Inns' business model is based on superior hospitality, competitive prices and locations at the heart of great cities. We will use this report to champion the City Tourism market and inform our development plans as we seek to double the size of our UK business.'
Overall, the UK city break market has grown by 7% or £9.5bn of new spend since 2000 to £53.9bn in 2007.