Expo 2020 Dubai: leaders showcase the West Midlands

Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council

Business leaders of the West Midlands descended upon Dubai to attend Expo 2020 this week, with an aim to boost the region as a recognised host of major sporting and cultural events.

At the Culture and Sport in the Global Economy: Leaders Debate event, representatives from the UK and West Midlands’ cultural, civic and sporting sectors presented the strengths of the region as a location for high-profile events.

Organised by the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC), and supported by the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP), the debate created a conversation with international cities in the hope to facilitate BATP’s Major Events Delivery Plan, an ambitious target to attract at least eight major sporting events by 2027.

Panellists sat from major international sporting bodies including Qatar 2022; the Global Esports Federation; Rugby League World Cup; City of Gold Coast; and World Games 2022 explored the long-term economic benefits of hosting sporting and cultural events.

Cllr Ian Ward, leader of the Birmingham City Council, gave a welcome and address at the event.

He said: “This summer, Birmingham and the West Midlands’ excellent sporting venues will be broadcast across the world during the Commonwealth Games, demonstrating just what the region has to offer other major sporting events. This includes a suite of world-class venues, a passionate sporting community and renowned professional sporting clubs.

“The West Midlands is looking to build on the profile of hosting the Games to attract more major sporting events to the city and region via its new Major Events Delivery Plan.

Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries gave a keynote presentation at the event.

She said: “The UK’s big cultural and sporting events of 2022 are vital to boosting our economy and building back better from Covid. Government investment of £24million into Birmingham 2022 will take the excitement generated by the Games and convert it into trade, tourism and investment in the West Midlands. It’s levelling up in action.”

The event took place ahead of the launch of VisitBritain’s new international GREAT Britain marketing campaign ‘Welcome to Another Side of Britain’. The £10million campaign aims to drive inbound tourism as the UK anticipates a year of sporting and cultural events.

Andrew Lovett, Chair of the West Midlands Regional Board for Tourism, said: “The Commonwealth Games will be our postcard to the world – showing domestic and international tourists what a fantastic destination the West Midlands is to visit.”

Also discussed were the opportunities presented by the Birmingham Commonwealth Esports Championships (6-7 August) and Commonwealth Esports Forum (5 August). Taking place at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham, the championships will bring together young competitors from around the world.