Posted by Andrew Cowell

Posted 6 November, 2015 After Work

You might have seen that Manchester has been named by travel bible Lonely Planet as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2016, as part of the travel bible’s annual “Best in Travel” listings. Also in the list are cities as diverse as Kotor in Montenegro, Mumbai, Ecuadorian capital Quito and old favourites like Dublin, Rotterdam, Rome and Nashville. Recognition in things like this is always nice, and the city deserves a pat on the back for continuing to make the city an attractive destination.

It’s worth looking at the things that made Manchester stand out in the eyes of Lonely Planet, and according to Marketing Manchester, arts and culture were picked out – the Manchester International Festival (MIF) being joined by the new HOME arts centre and extended Whitworth Gallery, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize. There’s also The Factory project, for which the winning architect will soon be named. All this shows a clear direction of travel over the last decade, since the city launched the MIF with the conviction that investment in the arts will pay off.

The report also picked out Old Trafford, Manchester House, Levenshulme Market and Manchester Pride as four important, very different reasons to visit the city. Over many years, Manchester puts a lot into pride, and deserves recognition for it. The gay village has long been a vibrant part of town, and does much for Manchester’s reputation and identity as a welcoming, inclusive city.

Levenshulme Market’s is a real triumph – a community-run social enterprise, it only started in March 2013 and has quickly gained recognition, becoming a must-visit for those seeking a bit of variety in their shopping as much as it’s a useful asset for locals. In a wider sense, Manchester has been pretty good at realising the value of markets, giving local traders and producers a platform, but also establishing markets as a leisure attraction – take a moment at Piccadilly station to see the crowds coming on from all over the map for the Christmas Markets in the coming weeks.

All this supports the city’s inward investment efforts – cities with a lot going on are cities that people want to be in, and so people want to base their businesses in. Manchester has always been one of the UK cities with the most applied-to universities, and it has good graduate retention rates. This is the background to a lot of the large office deals we’ve seen in the last two years.

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Does the city have more good restaurants and bars than it did ten years ago? Definitely. Does it have more events and festivals? Probably. Is the sports side stronger? United might not be dominant now, but that’s partly down to City’s emergence as a power, while the other Old Trafford has been reborn as a top class cricket ground.

Despite the worst recession in over half a century, it’s probably fair to say Manchester’s international reputation has been enhanced over the last ten years. So well done Marketing Manchester and the Manchester Growth Company. It’s a great city to work in and as James Smart, the destination editor of Lonely Planet, said, Manchester “has something to offer everyone”.