IT HAS been a good summer for the tourism industry in the Bradford district, kick-started by the world’s largest annual sporting event, and boosted by a decent period of genuinely hot weather.
Bradford now has just over a year to recast its year-round tourism offer to capitalise on Westfield’s opening, which will bring millions of new visitors into the city annually.
The challenge is to encourage those new visitors to do more than just shop when in the city centre, to stay, and to extend their visit to take in say, Saltaire or Wharfedale.
Knitting the district’s attractions together is the key to capturing the maximum visitor spend.
Businesses and destinations need to cross-sell.
I’m sure the Midland Hotel is already planning its Christmas 2015 weekend break: shopping in the city centre, followed by an evening at one of the UK’s biggest and best pantomimes at the Alhambra and a late curry, before a Sunday trip on the Worth Valley Railway’s Santa Express to Haworth for those last few stocking fillers.
Looking ahead, two key transport projects are underway which could transform the city centre as a tourist destination.
One very important step is that both of Bradford’s stations are going to be improved.
They are not only in need of being fit arrival points for commuters and visitors, but must also clearly signpost how easily visitors can explore the wider district by rail.
For the longer term, there is a growing sense of confidence that a direct rail link from the city centre to Leeds Bradford Airport will be delivered sooner rather than later.
However long that happens to take, by that time we need to have re-made our city as a central hub from which visitors are able to explore and enjoy all of the Bradford area.