Coventry facing hotel shortfall if City of Culture bid succeeds

CDP's vision for the former Coventry Telegraph building
CDP's vision for the former Coventry Telegraph building

Coventry could be facing a shortage of hotel accommodation if city lands the UK City of Culture title in 2021.

Estimates are that the city could need at least another 250 bedrooms to accommodate the additional tourists expected to visit – despite it already having twice the number of rooms of both Derry/Londonderry and Hull.

The conclusion is based on a study of the likely economic impact of winning the bid and of the experiences of northern cities such as current title holder Hull and Liverpool when it was European Capital of Culture.

Warwickshire and Birmingham have 20,000 hotel beds between them and would prove to be an additional asset for Coventry in 2021, but the city would require its own growth in both budget and quality hotels.

Andrew Dixon, who is advising Coventry on its bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 and is a visiting professor at Coventry University and the University of Warwick, has been managing an in-depth tourism research project on behalf of the city.

He said: “Hull has seen an increase of over 20% in hotel occupancy since winning the title and although Coventry already has more beds than both Hull and the previous winner, Derry/Londonderry, our research shows it will need more.

“Hull have been asking local people to turn spare rooms into Airbnb bedrooms in order to cope with success. Their recent Spencer Tunick exhibition attracted 10,500 visitors in one weekend and events such as the BBC’s Radio 1 Big Weekend draw people from across the UK.

“In 2013, Derry/Londonderry attracted 400,000 people for one music festival and were filling hotel beds 50 miles away.”

Coventry’s larger catchment, with more than 40 million people within two hours of the city, strong rail links and close proximity to Birmingham Airport will also add to its need for more beds.

“The Midlands has missed out on major cultural titles before but, with Coventry one of the favourites to win the bid, it would be a huge opportunity for regeneration,” added Mr Dixon.

“The bid could be worth £80m in increased tourism spend in 2021 and around £20m in increased revenue for hotels. The opportunity for existing and new hotels is massive.”

The former Coventry Telegraph building – which is already earmarked for a new 100-bed themed hotel – the Ricoh Arena and Friargate all offer potential new hotel sites for independents and major hotel brands.

Steve Reynolds, of Friargate, said: “Friargate is a strong supporter and a Bid Development Sponsor providing substantial practical and financial assistance to Coventry’s bid.

“We are pleased that our plans for Friargate include two hotels that will make a significant contribution to the number of new hotel rooms required in the city. Success in the bidding to be the UK City of Culture in 2021 will only accelerate the need for hotel rooms and we wish the city every success.”