Manchester's music scene is considered one of the UK's best (Image VisitManchester)
As the world focuses on London for the upcoming Olympic Games, there is another British city catching the eye of budding travelers to the UK: Manchester.
Statistics from UK tourism office VisitBritain show international travelers made 936,000 overnight stays in Manchester last year (compared to the 2010 figure of 811,000) as overseas tourism to the area grew 15 per cent.
VisitManchester gateway marketing manager Emma White attributes the fantastic increase in visitor numbers to the city to a number of factors.
The ongoing route development at Manchester Airport and an increasing number of international conferences in the city has really made its mark, she told e-Travel Blackboard.
Our activity in 2012 will focus on a number of cities across Europe with direct flights into Manchester and we will continue to warm up markets on the West Coast USA and China, particularly Hong Kong.
With the city Britains third most popular destination, local tourism bosses pointed to events like the 2011 Manchester International Festival (featuring performances by Bjork and Damon Albarn) and the Christmas Markets for boosting the citys profile.
But it is still the citys shopping and sporting attractions that continue to be Manchesters major draw cards.
As well as boasting an increasing number of luxury and boutique stores, the city is home to two of Europes biggest football clubs: Manchester United and recently crowned English champions Manchester City.
And the soccer doesnt stop there, with the National Football Museum (opening next month) expected to boost overseas visitors numbers by a further 350,000 this year alone.
For Americans visiting the Greater Manchester area, New York-based Ms White said there would be a wealth of sporting and cultural events to choose from.
Manchester is a great gateway to the whole of the north of England, she said, highlighting the recent launch of United Airlines inaugural flight from Washington DC to Manchester.
Whether its Manchesters heritage, arts and culture, music, events or indeed soccer, visitors can combine a trip to Manchester with all of the fantastic destinations surrounding it, such as Liverpool, Chester and the Lake District.
According to the Manchester Evening News, the city is set to earn Ł30 million from Olympic events over the summer as it hosts mens and womens football matches (featuring teams from USA, Brazil, Spain and UK) and warm-up games for the US mens and womens star-studded basketball teams.
Visitors can take in the drama at an Olympic Football match, see the Olympic Torch Relay and visit events at Manchesters African-themed festival of music, dance and art, We Face Forward, Ms White added.
July 2013 will see the biennial Manchester International Festival return to the city, for 18 extraordinary days of world premieres from across a complete spectrum of performance art.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H