City leaders in plea to avoid rail strikes’ impact on Eurovision

Business and cultural leaders in Liverpool have called on the Government and rail unions to try and avert industrial action scheduled to clash with the city hosting the Eurovision Song Contest.

The RMT and Aslef unions announced a fresh wave of strikes in their long-running dispute with train companies and the Government which will coincide with the May 13 final of the international song contest, which Liverpool is staging on behalf of last year’s winner, Ukraine.

Many thousands of Eurovision fans, including international visitors, are expected to descend on the city in the coming fortnight as preparations begin for the big event, staged at the city’s waterfront arena and convention centre.

Most hotel and private accommodation has been snapped up by fans heading to the event, or who are content to enjoy the full experience through a range of Eurovision events being staged around the city.

Around 100,000 extra visitors are expected in the city region during Eurovision, which will also attract a TV audience in the region of 160 million viewers.

It is estimated that the Liverpool City Region will reap a £25m economic return from the event, which will rise to £250m by 2026, as experience shows that most tourists tend to make return visits.

A joint statement has been issued on behalf of a variety of business and cultural leaders in the city region in response to the announcement that rail strikes will take place on May 12 and 13, coinciding with the Eurovision Song Contest Final weekend.

It says: “The investment in Eurovision is designed to keep Liverpool’s economy strong – to support our hospitality and leisure industries, all of which are facing one of their toughest years. Major events support all industries and sectors, not just one. We’ve worked incredibly hard to try to get the city’s economy back to where it was before the pandemic hit.

“Liverpool’s visitor economy across the Liverpool City Region is valued at £3.58bn, with Liverpool City at £2.5bn, LCR’s overall number of visitors is 42.15m. That’s 38,000 jobs in tourism, still not back at 2019 levels where it was 55,703. It’s one of our biggest industries and biggest employers.

“Liverpool is hosting Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine and it would be disappointing if UK politics impacted on the ability of our city to be able to show solidarity to a country that is seeing its very culture targeted.

“We would urge UK ministers and rail companies to get around the table with their unions as quickly as possible to reduce the impact this will have – on business, on tourism, on people.”

It adds: “Eurovision isn’t just two days, it’s two weeks of cultural and community activity that will see thousands of people from the city and far beyond enjoy free events.”

The statement is signed by: Mark Da Vanzo, chief executive, Everyman & Playhouse; Michael Eakin, chief executive, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; Gillian Miller, chief executive, Royal Court Theatre Liverpool; Diane Belidng, theatre director, Liverpool Empire Theatre; Marcus Magee, chair Accommodation BID, co- chair Liverpool Hospitality and general manager Hilton Hotel Liverpool; Steven Hesketh, vice chair Accommodation BID, deputy chair Liverpool Hospitality, Savvy Hotels; Jennina O’Neill, chair of Retail & Leisure BID and centre manager at Metquarter; Bill Addy, CEO Liverpool BID Company.