VisitBritain has announced a partnership with Birmingham and the surrounding areas to promote more of England’s regions to overseas visitors.

The three-year partnership is a joint initiative with Birmingham Airport, the West Midlands Growth Company, Shakespeare’s England and Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire.

Together, the organisations will market Birmingham and the surrounding areas to a global audience, convert inspiration to visit into bookings, and promote direct flights to the area. In the first year, the partnership will focus on the US market.

From stunning rural landscapes to cosmopolitan retail and world-class cultural gems, Birmingham and the partner destinations offer a wide range of experiences to overseas visitors.

VisitBritain Commercial Director Carol Dray said: “Tourism is one of the UK’s most valuable export industries, worth £127 billion annually to the economy.

“Increasing regional connectivity not only makes it easier for visitors to see more of Britain, the West Midlands and the Peak District, it boosts economic growth, and helps keep us an attractive destination in this fiercely competitive global market.”

West Midlands Growth Company Director of Marketing and Communications Emma Gray said:  “Birmingham and its surrounding areas have become increasingly popular tourist destinations, attracting some 1.5 million international visitors in 2015.

“By working in partnership with our destination partners we will be in an even stronger position to attract more visitors to the region, increasing economic development and growth. We look forward to capitalising on the opportunities and benefits that this initiative will bring to the tourism industry in the future.”

Birmingham Airport’s Commercial Director Jo Lloyd said:  “We’re proud and excited to be working with partners on this gateway campaign to drive more visitors to the region over the next three years. England’s Heartland offers visitors everything they could possibly imagine - from adventure and history to culture and arts – and with new long haul low cost direct services commencing next summer, Birmingham Airport offers the perfect gateway for visitors ready to discover our vibrant cities, beautiful villages and rolling countryside.”

Birmingham Airport is the UK’s third largest airport outside of London and is the gateway to England’s Heartland. Next year, Primera Air will launch low fare direct flights into Birmingham from New York, Boston and Toronto in the US and Canada.

The US is Britain’s most valuable inbound visitor market and also one of its largest. Latest figures from VisitBritain show that there were 1.9 million visits from the US to the UK in the first six months of this year, a 31% increase on the same period last year. Visitors from the US spent £1.8 billion between January and June this year, a 28% increase on the same period last year.

VisitBritain’s forecast shows that overseas visits are expected to reach 39.7 million in 2017, up 6% on 2016 figures. Spending by overseas visitors is forecast to reach £25.7 billion, up 14% on 2016.

Tourism is worth £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.