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How To Improve the Tourism Experience in Manchester (6 new ideas and what I’ve done about them).

Work is underway to create a remarkable new arts centre, the Factory, on the old Granada TV site, amidst thousands of new flats. But how will people get there once it all opens?

The walk from the Deansgate stations or St Peter’s Square is so long it will put off many people, whereas HOME is two minutes walk from the tram and national rail.

The only solution is a Metrolink spur probably from St Peter’s Square, down Peter Street and Quay Street to Factory. There could be a station in front of Great Northern, as there is plenty of space (just knock down that pointless spiky building in the way) and a terminus right outside the Factory. Indeed the strangely large, unnecessary space in front of Central Library was probably left there in anticipation of such a development.

Is Anything Happening?
I have put these ideas to a senior councillor and to Metrolink. It will probably happen anyway but it’s worth keeping the idea in the public eye. Now if only we had a Metrolink users’ group or a local paper that one could communicate with.

Manchester is desperately short of tour guides. There are huge areas of guiding waiting to be developed. We at New Manchester Walks have to turn away work because there’s nobody to do it. This was acute during the Peterloo 200 commemorations, for instance, and will come up again during VE Day 75. We could do a Manchester Music Tour every Saturday morning but don’t have the personnel.

I have been canvassing Visit Manchester for ten years to hold regular courses so that people who want to be guides but missed the last course in 2008-09 can get cracking. It’s outrageously unfair and unjust that since September 2008 anyone who wants to be a proper guide has no training course to join. Meanwhile the established Manchester Blue Badge guides, their Green Badge friends, and the London-based Institute of Tourist Guiding operate a closed shop.

Is Anything Happening?
Those interested can simply join New Manchester Walks, get expert training, and make a nice earner for themselves.


There is a host of ways to make Manchester more attractive to visitors (as well, of course, residents) and a sensible committee comprising people involved in tourism, connected to Visit/Marketing Manchester, could draw up a programme of ideas to badger those responsible into improving all sorts of things.

I envisage a flexible ad hoc committee that included tour guides, historians, journalists from the MEN and I Love Mcr, a tourist board representative, a couple of party political people.

What Might It Do. There are dozens of things that need improving. Here are two:
(i) The obvious. Lobby the Science & Industry museum (SIM) to put a great big bloody banner outside broadcasting to the world that the museum is the home of the world’s oldest railway station.
(ii) Less dramatic but still important. Get the Art Gallery to open up the entrance to Athenaeum. Since being closed the gate has become a repository for filth and litter, which is most unwelcoming, an eyesore and a bad advert for the Gallery.

Is Anything Happening?
I have put the idea of a Tourism Action Committee to Visit Manchester many times. No interest. I have been badgering Visit Manchester and the museum to let people know of the latter’s riches in a simple and effective public way for ten years, to no avail.

Great cities tend to have great civic societies, pushing for improvements and solving problems (see above). Manchester had an excellent and effective one in the 1990s. It published a high quality newspaper, full of fascinating articles and interesting historical features. Sadly the Civic Society was hijacked sometime later by the sociopathic Tory councillor John Kershaw, after which its sole role was to invite obscure government ministers to come to Manchester to give speeches at party lunches. Wow.

Is Anything Happening?
Since Kershaw’s passing the Civic Society has continued to have zero presence or purpose.

There’s no easy way of saying this. Visit Manchester’s website pages on our music heritage are a complete mess. Adverts for tours taking place in 2017 are still visible. There’s a page titled “Art and culture along Corridor Manchester”, which immediately makes you think: “What the bloody f— is ‘Corridor Manchester’? apart from marketing bolloxspeak. What tourist is going to say? “I’m in Manchester for a few days. I must visit Corridor Manchester.” Come on, tourist board. Get your act together!

Is Anything Happening?
I approached Visit Manchester many months ago offering to write (yes, I’ve written books for four main international publishers including Penguin) a long-awaited, much-needed section for their website on our wonderful music heritage, presenting it in a unique way that would excite the local and the visitor. Linked with the various guides’ tours of course. VM said they’d get back to me in three days. That was at the end of last July. I must try harder.

When Metrolink called me in for a meeting a few years ago about the new Trafford Centre tram line I expressed reservations that the stop two minutes’ walk from Man Utd’s ground was to be called “Wharfside Way”. When I suggested it might be a good idea to call it “Manchester United”, given its proximity to the ground, I was told it wouldn’t be open on match day. Cue: mass outrage and incredulity.

I pushed for a change of heart and was duly rewarded. It will be open on match day! However it is still about to be called “Wharfside Way”. I have pushed Metrolink to reconsider. Think of the thousands and thousands of visitors to Manchester going to the ground every day to visit the museum and go on the stadium tour. Think of helping them! Calling it “Wharfside Way” is farcical. But you know what will happen. A year after opening it will be changed to “Wharfside Way (for Manchester United)” and a year later “Manchester United”. So do it now. Help the tourist! Help the visitor!