Sport Tourism in Manchester, United Kingdom

Last Updated: 03 Mar 2020
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The evolution of Urban Tourism has provided a wide range of opportunity for the city of Manchester, UK. Alongside this opportunity Manchester has determined to employ a sport centred economic plan in an effort to bring in revenue. This study begins by assessing the underlying policies alongside the economic and social context in order to establish the overall direction of the rebranding effort of the focus on the area of sport. Next, this work examines the competing interests with the advent of the policy records in order to produce a credible series of results. Employing these results illustrated a wide range of benefits for the sport centred urban tourist effort. Alongside the positive elements is a strong residual argument that further study of the often volatile market segment will be needed in order to fully assess every opportunity.


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Current statistics illustrate the UK tourism market is centred in urban areas by a wide margin (Beioley 2002, pp. 1). This revenue stream can be utilized to reinvigorate a local or regional economic outlook in a variety of manners. Analysis demonstrates that city tourism differs from national tourism in that it is shorter, higher spending and far more reliant on the underlying public services (Beioley 2002, pp. 2). This is a positive component to the effort by Manchester, suggesting that there is a fundamental shift in policy to accompany this approach. Beginning with an initial report on the feasibility of transforming Manchester into a tourist destination, the concept of a sport centred industry has been favourably looked upon by the city (Law 2012, pp. 1). Lacking the infrastructure support would hamper the overall implementation of this avenue, making regulatory partnership vital. Manchester has found itself in positive area by building a partnership with both the social and legislative elements.

Manchester has recognized that the area of sport is a very popular cultural draw with the potential to spread good will towards the entire city and region (Tallon 2010, pp. 239). This facet of their plan not only built a solid foundation, but expanded the accompany revenue base. Regulators instituted policies that have resulted in the construction of the City of Manchester Stadium, with the explicit goal of revitalizing the entire district. This approach to the revitalisation effort has been heralded as a solid foundation upon which to build the regeneration of Manchester’s entire infrastructure (Tallon 2010, pp. 239). Underlying policies that are conducive to the sport arena are credited for energizing the tourist trade, transforming the image of the city itself as well as creating a sustainable form of industry that can serve to propel the city into the next era. Each of these components adds value, yet, the potential for a substantial lack of cohesiveness does exist (Tallon 2010, pp. 239)

Employing governmental assistance that designated Greater Manchester an ‘Enterprise Zone’ in 1987, there has been a sustained drive to capitalize on the potential for urban tourism centred on the area of sport (Tallon 2010, pp. 52). This on-going assistance has been a tremendous benefit to the implementation of the urban renewal plan.

As a result of the on-going campaign to build economic progress, regulators have actively worked to instil a tourism friendly element that is a continual boon to the urban recovery process in Manchester (Weed 2010, pp. 187). Alongside the recognition of the potential revenue to be found in the tourist trade, Manchester has worked unceasingly to put itself in a better strategic marketing position. It is the combination of forward thinking policy in conjunction with an adaptable industry that demonstrates Manchester’s long term commitment to the area of urban tourism.

Economic and Social Context

In a very public effort to rebrand the city in the 1990’s, Manchester adopted the new motto “The life and Soul of Britain” (Spirou 2011, pp. 112). A demonstrative first step allows a positive perception to begin. This rededication was a precursor of the effort to improve the social and cultural perception of Manchester as a destination. Acting on the potential for an increase in revenue, Manchester rightly pursued the industry of sport as a method to address this deficiency (Weed 2010, pp. 187). Succeeding in attaining their goal of the Common Wealth Games of 2002this economic activity served to lift the city above the dismal outlook with the further positive ramification of being judged relied upon to do the same for many similar progressive endeavours (Weed 2010, pp. 187). This is a positive element in that each project further strengthens the infrastructure.

Manchester’s demonstrated the widely felt social imperative to look beyond the current methods of creating revenue in order to make the most of the possibilities (Ashworth and Page 2010, pp. 1). This approach is in line with the working recognition for the need to employ an approach that connects the infrastructure of social sciences, with a focus on the element of urban studies to industry. Manchester’s ability to embrace the social science aspect has led to a tourism industry that has the potential to continue to expand (Ashworth and Page 2010, pp. 1). An associated increase in revenue and visitors is a positive credit to the underlying effort.

The implementing of the urban tourism plan has yielded substantial benefits to the social and cultural fabric of Manchester (Law 2010, p. 129). Underlying infrastructure such as road and regional travel has drastically improved as a result of the urban tourism drive. The establishment of stronger underlying elements enables the wide variety of non-sport related activities to benefit from the industry as well (Law 2010, pp. 129). Through the increased capacity to travel easily, more visitors have been attributed with coming to the city, providing a wealth of revenue for many of the industries that rest well outside of the sport focus. Yet, this also brings in the potential for related issues that could detract from the sport centred focus of the city (Law 2010, pp. 130.) The lack of proper application has the potential to result in the splitting of vital resources to the detriment of everyone.

Manchester was able to learn from their bids for the Olympic Games, adapt and make a successful bid for the Commonwealth Games (Cook and Ward 2011, pp. 2519). This is clear demonstration that the legislative and social perception was ripe for the development of an industry mechanism with the capacity to help them succeed. Combining the element of politics, social responsibility and ethical practice Manchester has managed to achieve a state of relative prosperity that will lend credence to the spirit of urban tourisms vital capacity to lend aid to struggling economies.

Competing Interests

Alongside the development of Manchester as ‘SportCity’, there are the separate industries that must compete in order to survive (Smith 2013, pp. 385). This recognition requires that any successful long term plan must include the capacity to bring in each of the disparate elements in such a manner that it promotes the whole. Modern studies on the benefits of creating a sport centred industry have been found to be beneficial, although the lack of adequate planning has the inherent capability of hobbling the industries that have little to do the with sport (Smith 2013, pp. 385). In the drive to enable the full range of economic benefits, ill-considered actions can have a tremendous impact on the remaining components of any cities combined industry.

An emerging market that has found turbulence in Manchester sport is the market for the gay community (Hughes 2003, pp. 152). Many argue that the perception of the gay lifestyle is in direct contrast to the effort to establish a sport destination spot. Targeting a market with substantial revenue, yet possessing potentially negative aspects when interacting with sport centred marketing, there is a real need to develop an overall approach that provides an inclusive element for progress (Hughes 2003, pp. 152). The ability to include the often contrasting positions of the competing groups in the city provides an ample illustration of the capability of the regional government to conduct large scale tourist attractions.

In an effort to address the diverse industries vital to the city, Manchester created a council referred to as the Employment in Construction Charter with the focus of linking the public sector to the private companies in order to distribute the growing revenue (Spirou 2011, pp. 206). This is a direct reflection of the effort to balance the division of power in order to promote a policy of growth for each of the separate factions. During the bid for the Commonwealth Games, Manchester was credited with not only appealing to the larger international community, but providing substantial providence for the local retailers as well (Cook and Ward 2011, pp. 2525). This demonstrates that Manchester learned from the prior Olympic Games Bid and adjusted to meet the requirements of the diverse elements in a successful manner.

Effectiveness of Policy

The City of Manchester efforts to revitalize the region through the utilization of the urban tourist area of sport has yielded significant results. The cities recognition that tourism is one of the highest revenue producing streams available has created a viable window of opportunity (Ritchie and Adair 2004, pp. 269). This approach has begun to yield a substantial return in both the financial and social perception areas. Sports tourism has the unique ability to both unlock the heritage elements that benefit that region of industry and the underlying natural and cultural depth that lies alongside the city (Ritchie and Adair 2004, pp. 269). These outcomes serve to illustrate the veracity of the path taken by Manchester in the effort to rejuvenate their city on every level.

Working towards goals that include the International Olympics and the Commonwealth Games are a very effective policy for a wide variety of reasons (Ritchie and Adiar 2004, pp. 269). Even the unsuccessful bids produce a litany of economic resources for the city. With national entities such as Tomorrows Tourism, Britain’s National Tourism concern, actively participating in the drive to establish a positive outcome, the underlying infrastructure benefited on every level.

Many of the internal improvements to the city are reflections of the efficacy of the urban renewal efforts. With the increased amount of visitors, the number of museums in Manchester is on the rise, with the subsequent impact of improving the outlook for the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (Law 2010, pp. 76). This is a direct result of the effectiveness of the policy in place. Manchester has successfully raised its profile to an international level that has the capacity to fuel the cities entire economic engine (Ritchie and Adair 2004, pp. 274). Forging trade alliances in several fundamental industries outside of the sport centred world served to broaden the Manchester business base, which in turn will balance the long term sustainability outlook for the cities programs.

Currently, Manchester boasts ultra-modern constructs such as the Lowry Centre, which alongside the rapidly developing art and culture industries have evolved into a very credible, and well balanced economic environment (Di-Toro 2010, pp. 1). This is a very apt demonstration of the ability of a savvy electorate to forge a business environment that is perceived to be beneficial by the majority of the populace. This concerted and progressive policy implementation has vaulted Manchester to third in the most visited cities in the UK, following London and Edinburgh (Di-Toro 2010, pp. 1). Together with the foundation of sport centred tourism, Manchester is rapidly becoming a well-rounded destination that has an appeal to many separate social levels, thereby increasing the cities overall value in terms of urban tourism potential.

Areas of Improvement

The ambitious drive by Manchester to lift their economic outlook via the instrument of sport centred tourism has not been without its significant detractions (Ritchie and Adair 2004, pp. 274). With the most glaring error being the single minded approach to the marketing method, the availability of associated markets in Manchester has been deemed to be small as compared to other regions. As a consequence, there is not a strong central or primary community that will allocate the overall distribution of income (Ritchie and Adair 2004, pp. 274). As the sport industry continues to thrive without proper planning, there is the real potential for the other un-associated industries to flounder. Davies (2010, pp. 1238) argues that there needs to be a far greater development of the role of sport within the underlying infrastructure before implementing any long term planning. The often volatile nature of the field itself can hamper the successful proliferation of progressive policy, instead hampering the growth due to poor performance.

The focus on the building of ‘Sportcity’ in Manchester, while producing an economic viability option, has taken over much of the city itself, irrevocably altering the face of the city forever (Berg, Braun, and Otgaar 2002, pp. 56). This fact has the potential to diminish the historical or creative aspects of the city’s tourism potential. The overall effort to instil a sense of long lasting progress will be reached through the development of a strategic plan that brings together the disparate elements of both the sport and tourism industries (Ritchie and Adair 2004, pp. 274). The arena of tourism is dominated by the area of commercialism, bringing the very real potential for the base interests of the commercial industries to begin to take precedence over the needs of the local population. The addition of the sport element, with its series of oversight mechanisms enables the creation of a credible system of checks and balances with the depth to take the city forward into the next era.


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Sport Tourism in Manchester, United Kingdom. (2019, Feb 09). Retrieved from

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