Not sure that it was necessarily in rank order but that's where Manchester appeared on Lonely Planet's list of the ten must visit places in the world. Being in the list is of course not a complete accident. Over the last couple of decades the city has polished up some of its historic assets, for example the City Art Gallery, John Rylands Library, Central Library, The Whitworth, Manchester Museum - the list could be a lot longer - and has created some new ones, for example Bridgewater Hall, the National Football Museum, Home. Parts of the city have been transformed including the city centre and we now offer a quality of life second to none, that has attracted highly skilled people to come from all over the country and all over the world to live and work here. That is driving economic growth and job creation in the city with a result that far more of our working age population are now in work.
Image and perception do matter. Apart from tourism being a big industry in itself with the number of hotel rooms in the city increasing by 60% over the last decade (with more on the way), and bed nights sold increasing by 80%, how we are seen and reported is an important factor in attracting and retaining talent and growing a modern economy. It's an area where we need to continue to invest and I spent all of yesterday on a panel interviewing nine different architectural practices bidding to do the design work for the Factory, possibly the most exciting cultural project any where in the world. Don't think we will be in a position to finalise our decision until next week or the week after but I'm pretty certain we are going to end up with something truly remarkable, that will both stimulate and entertain existing residents as well as add to those visitors coming from around the globe.