Overwhelming desire to return to city’s cultural hotspots post-lockdown

Castle Street

Eighty per cent of Merseyside residents are eager to return to Liverpool’s cultural venues, visitor attractions, restaurants and bars.

But almost half admitted they are still anxious about taking non-essential trips, even when lockdown is lifted.

The findings are from research undertaken by Marketing Liverpool, Liverpool City Region’s destination marketing organisation (DMO), on behalf of Liverpool Visitor Economy Network (LVEN) to understand how local residents feel about life after lockdown.

The research, including two virtual focus groups, is one of the first such pieces of research in the UK by a DMO and will help support the region’s recovery plans as lockdown measures are eased.

A total of 2,322 people took part in the survey, 75% of whom came from Liverpool City Region postcodes, with females and those over 35 being the most prominent responders.

The overwhelming majority said that restaurants would be one of the first places they would visit, with 68% of people saying they would visit them within the first six weeks of them being open, a timeframe which is considerably shorter than national research.

With health still being the most important factor to consider, more than 80% of people said they would welcome some sort of national accreditation scheme to prove a venue is following official government guidelines and procedures.

Limits on customer numbers, regular cleaning, social distancing rules and hand sanitiser stations all featured as crucial elements for when venues open for customers.

Of those surveyed, around half are looking forward to visiting the city’s visitor attractions, with 60% eagerly awaiting being able to return to the city region’s cultural venues.

Almost half of the respondents said they would be using public transport (train or bus) to rediscover the city’s visitor economy.

Donna Howitt, chair of LVEN marketing group, said: “the results of the survey help to provide a real optimism for businesses and attractions that rely on the visitor economy.

“Whilst safety must remain of paramount importance, we look forward to rebuilding visitor numbers, starting with local audiences who play an important role in getting their region back on its feet.”

The virtual focus groups revealed that people were looking forward to returning to a whole host of venues and locations, with the iconic waterfront and cathedrals two of the most popular options, shortly followed by the hairdresser.

Chris Brown, director of Marketing Liverpool, explained how they will use the results of the research to form the basis of their future work.

Chris Brown of Marketing Liverpool

“Liverpool is, and will continue to be, a very popular tourist destination, but in recent months we have shifted our work from promotion to supporting the hospitality and tourism sector during what continues to be a very difficult and challenging period.

“Health will always be our number one priority, but as we move slowly out of lockdown and the city begins to reopen, it’s crucial that we understand exactly how our local residents feel.

“These will be some of the very first people to use our visitor economy and their opinions will help form our campaigns and work for months to come,” he said.

Marketing Liverpool intends to undertake the resident sentiment survey on a regular basis to help shape future messaging and will be actively working with partners to progress exciting new initiatives, like Liverpool Without Walls, a £450,000 fund to help local independent hospitality businesses redesign outdoor spaces in popular areas such as Castle Street and turn them into high-quality covered seating areas to make up for the internal space they are losing as a result of social distancing restrictions.