Quentin Hughes – Was he right, is his prediction becoming true?
The immensely talented and forwarding thinking Liverpudlian Quentin Hughes in May 1967 suggested in a national newspaper that Liverpool’s future would lie in cultural tourism. The same year he outlined a detailed policy for the conservation of the city’s architecture. It became Liverpool City Council’s official policy.
Was he right, is his prediction becoming true, will cultural tourism be the foundation of Liverpool’s continuing rebirth?
This amazing city of ours is undoubtedly heritage and culture rich. Its people are proud and passionate. We welcome people with open arms and ensure they leave with a promise and a will to soon return. We have a proven track record of putting on the best of big shows, the Giants being a memorable and soon to be repeated example.
We of course had European Capital of Culture 2008; we now have World Heritage status. We have beautiful buildings and beautiful parks, and beautiful museums. We have a splendidly resurgent cruise industry. We have an incredible historical story to tell. No surprise then that Rough Guides has named Liverpool the top UK city and third in the world to visit in 2014.
We appear though to be good at other stuff. Recent figures suggest the Liverpool City Region economy is one of the fastest in England with a growth rate of 2.3% (ONS) for the past year (and £1.85bn in the pipeline). In this past week we hear that more than £1bn worth of development schemes got underway last year across the city. So was Quentin right or will cultural tourism just be a small slice of a much bigger cake?
Nationally tourism is the UK’s third highest export (LJMU) and the potential figures are big – the City Region Visitor Economy Strategy to 2020 (figures 2011) …. ‘An action plan that will harness the opportunities presented by the unique offering of culture, music, heritage and sport to enable the Visitor Economy to grow from its current value of £2.8 billion visitor spend per annum by 50% to £4.2 billion by 2020’
Much is happening. The re-opened Central Library has been a massive hit. The new £40m Exhibition Centre at Kings Dock will offer 8,100 square metres of event space, including a three-hall exhibition centre, which will interconnect with ACC Liverpool’s existing facilities. The Everyman Theatre reopens in March after a £28m rebuild. Let’s not forget the imminent redevelopments for Anfield.
The many and varied cultural and heritage related projects that spring up are clear indications of the local interest – Hidden Liverpool, Jewel on the Hill, The Good the Bad and the Scouse, Friends of St James, FOWT, Everton Park to name but a few.
Confidence in the sector is certainly growing: “The city can take heart and confidence from what has been achieved so far. Success breeds success. The achievements of the past decade make the city more likely to perform well in the more challenging days ahead and its track record should give its people much more confidence.” Professor Michael Parkinson CBE, Director of LJMU’s European Institute for Urban Affairs – 2013
The challenges and competition are many, not least in ensuring the whole city benefits. The southern-centric economic recovery and a less than sympathetic Government provide further hurdles. However, if a city has proven time and time again that it can evolve and succeed in a changing world then that city is Liverpool!
What would you like to see reinstated/restored/developed to help Quentin Hughes prediction to come true?
- Perhaps Shankland’s 1960’s ideas for a glass cover for Bold St.
- What about the ‘FriendsOfTheFlyover’ ideas for the Churchill flyover?
- Should we prioritise a direct city link to John Lennon Airport?
- Should the Pier Head Landing Stage be extended?
- Is it Peel Port’s ‘Liverpool Waters’?
- Free Mersey Tunnels?
- Should we introduce a tourist tax on hotel rooms?
- Restore the area around Canning Graving Docks?
- A Mersey Bridge?
- Further development of the Baltic Triangle?
- Free tourist buses? Cleaner streets?
- A city lottery to fund museums and libraries?
- An army of ‘Liverpool Heritage Volunteers?
- More river themed events?
- More use of Leeds/Liverpool Canal?
- More public access to our listed buildings?
- More events in our superb parks?
- A Liverpool version of ‘Barcelona, posa’t guapa’ (‘Barcelona, bring out your beauty’) campaign
- A dedicated Liverpool film studio to be built?