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The Vote: Is Salford a tourist destination?

Salford says it gets 7 million tourists a year: but how did they arrive at this figure and would you recommend the city to tourists?

Published on September 7th 2009.


The Vote: Is Salford a tourist destination?
Yes: - 60%
No: - 40%

‘Salford tourism is at an all time high with around 7.2 million visitors from across the globe coming to the city last year – about 504,000 more people than in 2007’, a Salford City Council press release announced last Friday.

It went on to say: ‘‘(A) report which calculates the economic impact of tourism on an area through the STEAM model shows that over £420m was spent in Salford by tourists.’

Good for Salford - that’s 19,726 people and more than £11m spent every day. This, by any measure, is eye-boggling.

But can we believe it? After all what is that STEAM model - something from the Museum of Science and Industry?

STEAM actually stands for the Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (Scarborough - happily for the acronym - because the scheme was developed there). It’s a mathematical model used for estimating volume, value, expenditure and basic tourism characteristics. It includes visitors who stay with friends or relatives and day visitors. Day visitors also include those who visit for non-routine shopping – like going to a garden centre. STEAM is 'not designed to provide a precise measurement of tourism but indicative volumes and values as a base for monitoring trends’. The figures should be used with care.

The key aspect is that STEAM measures tourism from the supply side, from asking B&Bs and art galleries and so on, what their visitor numbers were and how much they spent. It’s a relatively inexpensive method compared to the measurement of tourism activity from the demand side – for instance asking people at The Quays individually what they’re doing there.

This seems logical enough. But the big problem, and where an element of clever accounting occurs, is with the definition of the words ‘tourist’ and ‘tourism’. Most of the ‘tourists’ measured by STEAM wouldn’t be deemed tourists by the rest of us.

Ask a friend what a tourist is, and they’ve probably got in mind people who’ve gone out of their way to visit a place for its famous sights, or because they’ve been told by others directly or indirectly that it’s a picturesque or significant destination.

Tourists are definitely not seen as friends and family popping over for the day – those would be visitors, the same goes for visiting students, conference guests, business people, sports fans or shoppers. Salford's 7m tourist figure includes the 800,000 visitors the Lowry has each year but as the majority of these are local theatre-goers many on repeat visits, can they really be thought of as tourists?

Post industrial centres, Manchester for the large part as well, are by this measure huge visitor destinations. It’s the same for any place with large movements of population in and out of the city for business, study or work. These places always have a circulation of visitors, some of whom are genuine tourists the same as those lolling round the fountains in Trafalgar Square, but the majority will be here for other reasons.

So are the Salford figures a matter of clever accounting plus good marketing? Of course they are, they're a statistical dark art. Anybody seen those 19,726 daily tourists rubber-necking round Salford lately?

Yet if it builds up local morale in what their area has to offer, and helps inspire investment to improve upon that and also attracts new jobs there’s nothing wrong with STEAM.

The danger would be if the city used it to give a false impression – the danger is if Salford gets carried away. The place has many sturdy virtues but disappointing tourists by painting it as some sort of tourist hotspot with these figures would be short-sighted. It's even perhaps a little incautious to draw attention to itself in this way, perhaps it should have been content with being included in the general Greater Manchester figures - 100.6 million visitors in 2007, far more than the 7m reported in Salford.

Better a no-show than a disappointed visitor – you know how that lot all leap on TripAdvisor?

This is our fantasy of a pair of empty nesters (that’s tourism speak again) reading about Salford’s latest stats in a certain distant part of the kingdom.

Breakfast in Chipping Awfully Awfully in the sleepy English county of Waitrose. Something in the Sunday papers has caught Sebastian’s eye.

Sebastian: I fancy a weekend break darling, just read about a place here.

Cordelia: Oh what a good idea, darling. Where are you thinking?

Sebastian: What about this place called Salford? It seems it’s all the rage now.

Cordelia: Is that somewhere in Scandinavia?

Sebastian No, it’s in the North of England - never heard of it either. But apparently it’s a city with its own Cathedral and University. Must be very sweet this time of year, all manicured grass and changing leaves round the Cathedral close and – one supposes - punting down the River Irwell as it dawdles through the ivory towers of academia.

Cordelia: What a delightful picture. Could we stay somewhere special do you think darling?

Sebastian: Of course. There’s a five star hotel which looks the part. And you’ll be pleased by this. It’s in walking distance of the main shopping centre, called Salford Shopping City. You could pick up something ‘glam’ there darling - something silky and satin for the evening?

Cordelia: Stop it Sebastian. But it all does sound too lovely. How funny that we’ve never heard of the place before? I wonder does one pronounce the first syllable like ‘fall’? Tell me more?

Sebastian: Well, you’ll like this, it doesn’t have a proper footy club, so none of those boorish soccer types, although there is rugger with Salford Reds – Union I hope. And look, there’s a simply marvellous place called the Lowry with theatres and galleries. The BBC are moving in as well, to 'MediaCity they say – no expense spared for those people, must be very handsome. Oh and we could take a Ship Canal walk and catch a trip on a ferry.

Cordelia: It’s by the seaside then? Even better. The seagull’s call, delish seafood. One thing though, darling.

Sebastian: Yes?

Cordelia: I thought all the things you mentioned were in Manchester.

Sebastian: So did I.

Cordelia: How curious. Still it seems very jolly. Can't wait to go.

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45 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

trevor needSeptember 7th 2009.

All Salford needs is a spa to make it perfect?

Che GuevaraSeptember 7th 2009.

Eh, all Salford needs is a Spar?

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2009.

Trafford has a lot of visitors too but they go to the two major sports attractions. The seven of the ten councils have recognisable centres,which provides them with an identity: Manchester, Stockport, Bury, Bolton, Wigan, Oldham and Rochdale.. Salford, Tameside, Trafford are really collections of townships, Salford by accident and the other two by design. People don't go to Salford or Tameside or Trafford but to specific attractions within the municiple area.

east lancsSeptember 7th 2009.

After several years of living and working in various places around Salford, I can honestly say, hand-on-heart, that all things considered; it's a complete shithole.

Pompous pricksSeptember 7th 2009.

It may be apparent to some of us that Mancon’s recent office move from the northern quarter would have been far better located here (Salford) rather than the obviously struggling Spinningfields they are so keen to promote. Why don't you wind your necks in and support all of Manchester and not just your chosen area.The facts are that 'spin' fields as I like to call it will only ever develop in to Manchester's corporate banking district and nothing else. You’re in the wrong place folks, and smarmy sarcastic articles like that don’t help our city nor do they promote your relationships with the local media…I do hope you smart arses will be like spoilt kids locked out of a sweet shop when Media city finally opens. The Mancon staff I feel sorry for, Garner and Schofield I hope join the ranks of the recent unemployment numbers. Enjoy your evening.

Rovert DoyleSeptember 7th 2009.

Honestly don't be so taken aback by a bit of fun. I remember seeing here something on the Sacred Trinity Church on Chapel Street and about Corridor nearby which really praised Salford. This made me laugh, lighten up man, and why would yu wish anybody unemployed.

Scott, SalfordSeptember 7th 2009.

The thing that makes me laugh is whenever you see a book, calendar or tourist guide for 'Manchester' the front cover inevitably shows a picture of The Lowry which, er, was in Salford the last time I checked. Seems like it's OK to use Salford when it suits.

OSeptember 7th 2009.

ha ha couldn't agree with Pompus Prick anymore, well said mate. Another cringe worthy and pretentious article on Manchester Confidential. I love this website. Keep up the shit work.

TaggartSeptember 7th 2009.

Very droll but I don't think some of your readers can cope with satire. And I thought your readers judging by the comments on today's article about the Metro were a little sharper. Oh well, the intellect of the public - and those who can't take a joke - let's us down again.

salford?September 7th 2009.

I could have sworn Salford used to be the centre of manchester?or have i missed something?

OSeptember 7th 2009.

yes yes very true Taggart, the wit deployed here is of such a high standard that some people just can't take it. I think maybe I was caught out by the complexity of the article. I've re - read it and it's actually quite awesome... two rich southerners planning to come to Salford... except they are just joking (I think) because really Salford is not very nice... it took me a while to get my head around the satire but I got there in the end. Great stuff.

scoteeeSeptember 7th 2009.

hmmm satirical? Manconfidential might struggle with satire because i reckon they can be a little bit pompous at times. I'm not so surprised at pompous pricks reaction really.

Billy Bacon BreakfastSeptember 7th 2009.

Maybe reading too much into a bit of throw-away slapstick I feel

scoteeeSeptember 7th 2009.

Your probably right Billy, although I can't see throw-away slapstick being directed and Spinningfields! I could go on all day about that windy hollow of concrete and glass...

KellSeptember 7th 2009.

I feel it's a leg-pull about the promotion of Salford's tourism when it's just a part of Manchester's tourism whole. Giving visitor stats for Spinningfields would be as ludicrous as giving visitor stats for Salford. They're meaningless. It's like giving Bootle's tourism stats - it's just a part of Liverpool for all intents and purposes.

J SackvilleStrasseSeptember 7th 2009.

Read the press release on Salford's website. It says: 'The Lowry arts centre and heritage gems like Ordsall Hall and Salford Lads Club are among its attractions, alongside the Imperial War Museum North and Manchester United's ground in nearby Trafford.' Isn't including United a bit cheeky, despite the belated credit for Trafford?

HeartySeptember 7th 2009.

Come on, who really, south of Birmingham knows where Salford is. I didn't have a clue when I was growing up and I'm from Wakefield. The stats do lie about Salford, aside from the Quays, and a bit round the University and Worsley what would you recommend that tourists do in Salford? I calculated that the 7m figure means 19K plus tourists must come to Salford each year. Reall?

HeartySeptember 7th 2009.

Sorry I meant each day

The Hip PriestSeptember 7th 2009.

Firstly, no Salford isn't a tourist destination, yes it has some attractions and combined with manchester , and probably liverpool it makes a decent place for a short city break. Secondly, it's not a 'shit hole' east lancs, yes it has rough parts, but which city doesn't, our beloved manchester definitely does. So maybe next time you're whizzing past down the a580/a6 you stop off at a few places, open your eyes and allow your tiny little mind to grow

Fact isSeptember 7th 2009.

once the BBC moves into MediaCity, its employees will all live in.....Chorlton. Nuff said.

EditorialSeptember 7th 2009.

Folks we've added a lot of extra article here.....just to make sure you don't think we're knocking Salford as such.....and also to give you an insight in to how these stats are achieved.

Fact isSeptember 7th 2009.

Never trust stats you haven't fudged yourself! Thanks for the additions, I will now pay Salford a non-routine visit to stock up my spliff supplies...

BecSeptember 7th 2009.

it's probably lots of smiths fans visiting salford lads club...

OSeptember 7th 2009.

East lanc where do you live?

mditaSeptember 7th 2009.

I grew up in salford (the city without a city centre may I add!) and i continue to this day my love (more) hate relationship with the place. it certainly is not a tourist destination unless these southern toffs fancy a bus ride around lower/higher broughton, salford precinct, little hulton, weaste, swinton, kersal, langworthy, seedley, brookhouse and pendlebury etc....(they probably have never even heard of those places and that salford just consists of the lowry and the forthcoming media city anyway! i havent lived there for 8 years and i never intend to return to the shit hole - manchester is where its at! oh and just for the record, the happy mondays are salfords greatest band, not the ting tings, they arent even salfordians!

Brett SinclairSeptember 7th 2009.

Quelle surprise. Manchester Confidential in let's instigate another stereotypical go at Salford. You know, I'm too bored to even respond properly any more. Maybe I will later. The figures they've quoted use the same type of calculation any other council would use. I've lived in Salford for over 15 years and I love the place, my neighbours and my house, the pubs nearby andmany other things. Places change. I'm of course not a true Salfordian like the Ting Tings so maybe I'm not qualified to comment. mdita is ill informed and should visit some areas of Manchester that don't get much of a focus from a tourismpoint of view. Grow up ,the lot of you.

STEAM-ed upSeptember 7th 2009.

Brett, but Confidential are the only people to investigate the figures and tell us how they were arrived at. There's nothing at all nasty about Salford in here, just some humours and an explanation of what would otherwise seem an extraordinary figure for anybody who moves round the city.

mditaSeptember 7th 2009.

why am i ill informed? i have lived and worked all over manchester and salford! unlike the duchess of york ha ha! im surprised you have pubs near you mr sinclair, there were non in the particular area of salford i was brought up in, and the ones still running were they were either controlled by protection racket gangs or burnt out. i had to venure to the lovely cheetham hill or town for a drink! nice! a lick of pink paint on some bins, re done up terraced houses on langworthy road and some hanging baskets does not change an area!

Tombat WombatSeptember 7th 2009.

People visit Salford Quays alot and that's Salford but they think they are in Manchester!

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2009.

Hoodwinked by the name, probably.

ben OrdsallSeptember 7th 2009.

I think bus tours of Ordsall, a bit like the ones to Woburn Safari Park, complete with scallies climbing on your bonnet and snapping off windscreen wipers, would be a great Salford tourist attraction. Having lived here for 5 years I would NOT recommend anyone visit here, unless it was for a study of urban deprivation and squalour.

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2009.

I was born and still live in Salford (with a 15 year hiatus in Chorlton in between). I am not a regionalist, or a xenophobe, but I have to agree that Salford is a shit-hole and Salford Council are clearly deranged when it comes to spending our Council Tax and also selling off most of Salford to Peel Holdings (how do they get away with it and what happens to the money?). With so many run down areas it is laughable that SCC would spend £70 000 on a piece of public art (which is on the roundabout at the start of the Irlam Bypass) which in all honesty looks like a hastily erected barricade of the kind you may have seen in riot situations on Belfast streets circa 1975.

brettsinclairSeptember 7th 2009.

As I said, I'm bored with this. Exactly. "the particular area of Salford" you were brought up in. Do not refer to where I live as, you so eloquently put, as a "shithole". You are using your experience of a particular area to damn the whole of Salford. I'm sorry you had a bad time of it but there are many areas you could have lived in Manchester, Leeds, London etc that would have given you a similar experience. My experience has been brilliant. I love Salford and Manchester and that's why I chose to live here. Why is it not valid to mention Ting Tings because they weren't born here? They live and work here, unless they go and do an Oasis and get down to London as soon as they possibly could do... Stop being so blinkered and don't condemn the whole city because of your experience. Oh and have we stopped using capital letters in English? Ultimately these figures seem to speak for themselves just like the figures for attendance of the Manchester International Festival, which I am sure there is no need to question. Why can't we just appreciate that something good has happened and , whether you like it or not, this is a good thing. Taking the mick out of everything is just lazy. "Bus tours of Ordsall" (which has improved a lot in recent years) etc. I've lived all over Britain and in France and there are certain areas of cities which have problems. You ranters always focus on the negatives. There are negatives and positives and this is a positive. Fact.

Phil BeckettSeptember 7th 2009.

check this link to see a video of the monstrosity, ahem, tourist attraction, and what local peeps think of it http://tinyurl.com/l4ftyy

mark mSeptember 7th 2009.

Got to love that excellent reporting on salfordonline.com

angri o chaddySeptember 7th 2009.

Tourism is precisely that .Salford's ' attractions' always make me think of Chris Ofili's art -- little gems and jewels nestling in a big pile of poo !And I was born there ! You won't find many educated indigenous Salfordians with any illusions about the place . But , it's just the same as any other 'tourist location' -- they show and promote the good bits , unless the punters demand a more ' edgy'experience , like a bus ride around a local ghetto...

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2009.

where do you live East Lancs?

east lancsSeptember 7th 2009.

Mummy said never to talk to strangers x

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2009.

yeah because you know what the response would be if you were to say. I think maybe you don't live in such a fantastic place yourself...

east lancsSeptember 7th 2009.

And I think you live in Salford. Look, I've 15 years of living, working, and studying in Salford. I have a great deal of affection for the place, I used to be involved with Chapel St BG, I helped with the . But it remains a very poor relation of Manchester, and the fact remains; those figures are a load of bollocks.

BlameSeptember 7th 2009.

Meh, Salford just that media place Manchester Council are building for those London companies isn't it? It's not a proper town.

X-salfordianSeptember 7th 2009.

After living in some of the new flats in Salford (near the quays) I would never recommend anyone going there ever.....I have never seen such a mixture of general scum and depravity in all my life. Came home from work to find my flat devoid of all my wordly goods and a missing car. Police told me they new who it was but couldn't do anything. Glad to see the back of the place. I know this happens everywhere but hey ho. Its still a shithole.

CasSeptember 7th 2009.

Of course Salford is a tourist destination - it aint Rome but that doesn't make it invalid as a destination. Imperial war museum, Lowry centre, Lowry hotel, Manchester United are all well worth a look and a great touristy day is spent by many at these places. Yes there are bits that are shitholes but there is everywhere.

PRINTERMANSeptember 7th 2009.

Salford weld on your wheel nuts

ChrisSeptember 7th 2009.

Salford has finished 59th in a recent survey of why people want to visit, work and live in Britain’s sixty major cities. Salford beat Bradford, but that was it in the YouGov PlaceIndex poll undertaken in July 2009. Salford was the only city to place in the bottom 10 cities for each of the 11 key indicators which included – cultural experience, atmosphere, friendliness, ease of getting around, shops and restaurants and the media ‘Buzz’ that a city generates. Salford’s Siamese twin came 9th overall. See the survey for yourself here: http://tiny.cc/SXxTW

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