Street cred a boost for Manchester

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The Independent Online
London has its Tower. So does Blackpool. But Manchester, a city whose notoreity has been earned largely thorugh its legendary levels of rainfall, is now making a serious play for the dollar, yen and franc of tourists, writes Danny Penman.

Indeed, the home of the Halle Orchestra, Manchester United and Coronation Street has become one of the country's hottest destinations for visiting Americans. The city, which is selling itself heavily both at home and abroad, has become so popular that a promotional campaign in New York has been postponed because there are not enough aircraft seats available to carry all the eager Americans.

It is now the main destination outside London for transatlantic visitors. Many are businessmen, using the city as a base to cover northern England and spending a day or two sightseeing. In strict tourism terms, the city falls to sixth place behind London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Glasgow and Birmingham.

Elizabeth Jeffreys, chief executive of the Greater Manchester Tourism and Convention Bureau, said the expanding airport and (failed) Olympic bid were responsible for raising the city's profile overseas. She said that the airport offered the "most hassle-free way of getting into Britain".

"Once we've got people here they become very enthusiastic ambassadors for the city. That, combined with an exchange rate that's very favourable to Britain, plus the number of hotel rooms we have, ensures that things are working very nicely for us," she said. Tourists also use the city as a base to visit the Lake District, the Peaks, North Wales, Liverpool and Chester. The Granada Studios tour, which incorporates a trip down a replica of Coronation Street, may not have the history of some of London's attractions but has a particular lure of its own.

The Tower and the Rover's: How they compare

TOWER OF LONDON

Built: Begun in 1066, completed in 1285

Purpose: Built as fortress for conquering Normans. Later used to imprison traitors

Popularity: 2.48m visitors in 1994 from all over the world

Price: Adult pounds 8.30, Child pounds 5.50, Family pounds 21.95

Open: Mon - Sat 9am-6pm; Sun 10am - 6pm

Attractions: Crown Jewels in the new pounds 10m jewel house; scene of execution of, among others, Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn; Traitors' Gate; Beefeaters; Ravens

Souvenirs: Union Jacks; Miniature beefeaters; Models of Tower Bridge

ROVER'S RETURN

Built: In 1960, when Coronation Street started. Replica at Granada Studios open to public in 1987

Purpose: Potrayal of the public house as a focal point of a northern community

Popularity: 750,000 visitors, overwhelmingly from the English- speaking world

Price: Adult pounds 12.99, Child pounds 8:99, Children under 5 free

Open: 9:45am to 6:00pm seven days a week

Attractions: Meet the stars from Coronation Street. A pint of Newton and Ridley beer

Souvenirs: Beermats, bar towels, tankards, Bet Lynch's ear-rings

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