Manchester’s likeness to New York has made it a mecca for filmmakers looking for a stand-in for the Big Apple, but the similarities go further than surface-deep with a shared vibrancy and rich heritage across culture, music and sport.
Now, in an exciting new move to kick-off the decade, Marketing Manchester and NYC & Company, New York’s official marketing organisation, have signed an official city-to-city tourism partnership agreement.
Formalised during a press conference at Manchester’s Cultureplex on Thursday, the new two-year agreement includes exchanging marketing assets worth $500k in each destination.
New York City will utilise digital billboards on Manchester’s main roads and across Transport for Greater Manchester to promote the city, while Manchester will have bus shelters and Link NYC digital screens throughout New York to promote its own tourism message.
The two cities will also share the best practices in tourism marketing and destination management, including strategy around arts and culture, sports and LGBTQ+ travel.
“It’s an exciting moment for us and New York City,” says Fred Dixon, president and CEO at NYC & Company who flew over from New York to mark the beginning of the partnership.
“We’re really thrilled to be here to formalise this partnership with northern England’s most important city. It’s a big moment for all of us. This city is so vibrant and so exciting.”
New York City’s number one source of international travel is the United Kingdom, and last year, the city welcomed an estimated 1.3 million travellers from British soil, an all-time high.
For Manchester, the USA is second in terms of the city’s top ten source markets for international visitors.
“Formalising this new collaboration with Manchester makes excellent business sense. New York City and Manchester share so much in common, they share a great sports heritage, they’re both home to fantastic arts and culture…and also share a rich cultural heritage. And we’d be amiss if we didn’t talk about the diversity of our great cities,” adds Fred.
“New York’s always reinventing itself and I’m finding Manchester is very much the same way. We look forward to learning from Manchester…we’re excited to be kicking off this partnership and is just the beginning of what will be a very fruitful relationship.”
The new tourism partnership comes as Virgin Atlantic, represented by Hai Bei Chen, head of brand strategy and campaigns at the press conference, increases services between the two cities. Now flying its largest aircraft on the Manchester to JFK route, the Boeing 747, Virgin Atlantic’s increasing capacity out of Manchester to New York by 65 per cent this winter.
It’s also set to debut the iconic Clubhouse lounge at Manchester Airport in the spring, which will include a la carte dining, full-service bar, working spaces and spa for Upper Class customers and Gold Card members.
“Marketing Manchester has been delivering strategic and tactical marketing in the USA for many years and this formal partnership, based on an agreement to share insights and intelligence, connections and collaboration opportunities and access to media infrastructure, is particularly significant as Virgin Atlantic increases its capacity on the non-stop flight to JFK Airport,” says Sheona Southern, Marketing Manchester’s managing director.
Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council, was also in attendance at the event. “I’m absolutely clear what my favourite city in the world is, I’m in it, but my second favourite is New York City,” he said.
“It’s one of the world’s great cities… that wonderful skyline, the Statue of Liberty is something everybody is familiar with. We understand that emphasis on culture, on sport, on heritage, and LGBTQ community.
“We’re a little smaller than New York but what we have seen is phenomenal transformation over the past decade and a half. It’s not just our skyline that’s changed, the population’s grown, [and] we’ve grown younger, we’ve returned to some of our historic values, and the economy has been transformed.
“We’ve seen that investment in sport, in culture, in the growth of the restaurant and bar scene and growth in our hotel offer within our city, making it an ever more attractive offer to visitors.”
For Manchester, 2020 represents a significant cultural shift for the city with over £200million of investment bearing fruit with the opening of a new exhibition gallery at the Science and Industry Museum, the reopening of Contact and Octagon theatres after significant upgrades, the expansion of music venue Band on the Wall, the rebirth of iconic Wigan Pier and the phase one opening of Europe’s biggest heritage gardening project, RHS Garden Bridgewater.
There are also new hotels, including accessible Hotel Brooklyn, Hampton by Hilton and Moxy by Marriott, as well as the likes of Tom Kerridge at Stock Exchange Hotel, and the Michelin-starred Mana to entice new visitors to Manchester.
“New York City is one of the top tourism destinations in the world,” says Sheona, “and to be able to align ourselves with a city we have so much in common with, especially in respect to being open, diverse and welcome destinations, is a huge coup and speaks volumes about Manchester’s increasing global profile.”