The objective is clear – to transform Hull into a world-class visitor destination.
The city’s role as UK City of Culture, its proud maritime heritage and the multi-million pound investments now being delivered in culture and tourism infrastructure are major steps towards realising this ambitious goal.
As one of Rough Guides’ top 10 global cities to visit in 2016, Hull is already well-known among keen travellers looking for unique heritage and culture. The region’s visitor economy is now worth £757 million a year, while annual visits to Hull will soon bypass more than six million.
An incredible 1.35 million people visited exhibitions and performances across the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull History Centre and the city's exceptional museums quarter during the UK City of Culture celebrations. Visitors also flocked to its two hugely popular theatres and string of independent art galleries at the city’s cultural heart.
The city's awe-inspiring programme of outdoor events includes the Freedom Festival, the city's annual arts celebration and the huge Humber Street Sesh music event.
Future plans include a £27 million heritage-led regeneration called Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City, which will see the redevelopment of the city’s historic maritime assets, including the Hull Maritime Museum and two historic vessels, the Arctic Corsair and Spurn Lightship. And a proposed £50 million cruise liner terminal is to establish the city as a new European visitor destination, showcasing the history and countryside of Yorkshire.
A tour de force
Hull’s continued UK City of Culture status is also expected to mark a further surge in opportunities for its retail and leisure sectors. The city’s attraction as a retail destination has strengthened hugely over the past decade. The city houses some of the UK’s most popular retail brands, with many more showing strong interest. Its three major shopping centres - St Stephen’s, Princes Quay and Prospect Centre - cater to hundreds of thousands of people a year.
Shoppers in the city centre can now gaze upon stunning water features, spectacular lighting, beautiful landscaping and interactive public art after a £25 million Public Realm strategy transformed the look of the retail centre.
Increased business opportunity has seen almost 50 bars and restaurants opening in the past three years, including TV chef Gino D'Acampo’s much-anticipated Italian restaurant and Marco Pierre White’s steakhouse at the new DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.
These big names join a flourishing street food scene led by independent vendors in the city centre’s Trinity Market.
An £80 million investment has seen the disused warehouses of the historic Fruit Market transformed into an eclectic mix of independent food outlets, including strong local restaurant brands 1884 and Tapasya, while city’s medieval Old Town has seen a £10 million investment of its own. The £36 million multi-purpose Bonus Arena, a state-of-the-art music and events complex with a capacity of up to 3,500 people, will allow the city to host huge global acts.
With unprecedented investment and skyrocketing consumer confidence, perhaps no sector will benefit more from the city’s growing reputation as a visitor destination.