In recent weeks, some international destinations have begun to shake off their COVID restrictions and open up once again to American travelers. With these developments, you can bet that your clients are dreaming, once again, of venturing to their favorite European vacation spots.
Now is the time to suggest travel adventures that they may not have considered, something a bit off the beaten path but still easy to get to, say Manchester, England, for instance. Here are some things that you may not know about the destination, all great reasons to book your clients to Manchester …
Once industrial, now wittily cultural
Just 50 years ago, Manchester was still seen as the brooding Victorian metropolis where the Industrial Revolution was born (at the dawn of the 19th century) and many of the foundations of modern urban life were formulated. To put it bluntly, it was historically important, but rather drab by today’s standards. But now, this trendy and bohemian cosmopolitan city has been reincarnated as a cultural tour de force - a lively hub for artists, musicians, inventors, and creatives.
With its rich and progressive history, this destination has many stories of struggle, innovation, and triumph to tell, and visitors can hear and feel those tales on its streets as well as in its storefronts and cultural attractions.
Let’s start with the fact that Manchester is a compact city with diverse neighborhoods fitted together like an intriguing puzzle that is best explored by foot. (Visitors can actually get from one side of the city to the other in about 25 minutes.) Some of the best options to experience the heartbeat of Manchester include: a street art walking tour in the Northern Quarter; a food and drink heritage tour in Ancoats, a craft beer tour, bespoke taxi tours, private walking tours, and of course the hop-on-hop-off, double-decker bus tours; or taking in the entire scene from the surrounding waters on a meandering river cruise.
Artsy urban scene
In close proximity to Liverpool (home of the Beatles), Manchester has important ties to the British music scene - and grassroots indie music abounds there. Here’s a tip from Susan Becks, owner of Footsteps World Travel in Medina, Ohio, who has clients who visit Manchester just for the artsy music scene: “Many bands got their start here, including the English rock band Oasis. The front man of Oasis actually has a clothing store in Manchester, called Pretty Green, which is popular among the music scene crowd. There’s also a famous secondhand music store, called Sifters Records in the suburb of Burnage, that carries a large selection of hard-to-get records.”
Another big draw is the Manchester International Festival. Held every other year, about three million people attend; and it focuses on presenting new and original works of the performing arts, visual arts, and pop culture. The festival is set to take place again over three weeks in July 2023.
Museums, galleries & gardens galore
Culture vultures will feel right at home in Manchester. Major attractions include: the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, John Rylands Library (with its Victorian-Gothic, castle-like architecture), and The Whitworth. Smaller but no-less-distinctive places worth seeing are the restored 1850s home of the Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, and the Chetham’s Library (with its tales of ghosts and priceless collection of books). Of note and different for Americans, most of the museums and galleries are free of charge.
Manchester is also surrounded by national parks of pristine beauty, with five of them located within two hours of the city. The latest offering, which opened in May of this year, the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Garden Bridgewater is set on a spectacular 154-acre historic landscape. What could be more quintessentially British than enjoying some witty conversation while strolling the gardens with your afternoon companion?
Of particular interest to sports lovers, Manchester is considered to be the home of soccer (“football” for Europeans). It also has two famous soccer clubs (Manchester City and Manchester United), with both clubs offering behind-the-scenes stadium tours, including at Manchester United, where visitors get to the pitch by running down the tunnel to the roar of the crowd.
Keep in mind that because of the soccer season, summer is actually this destination’s low season for hotels, making that the perfect time to visit.
Manchester has a vast legacy, from its early beginnings as a Roman fort to today’s reinvented cosmopolitan city. And that kind of expansive history makes it a natural for heritage tourism.
Becks’ travel agency specializes in heritage travel and says: “We have many clients with ancestors from the UK. We research our clients’ genealogy and plan trips for them to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors. We link them up with local tour guides, so they can learn more about their family’s heritage.” These are the meaningful types of travel experiences that more and more people are seeking out these days.
Nonstop flights from the U.S.
Of course, as a travel advisor, you have flown clients into London. But there is another convenient gateway into Great Britain, and that is Manchester Airport in Northern England. Good lift is in place directly from key U.S. cities, which is especially appealing as travelers face the lingering and sometimes trying pandemic-influenced travel regulations and protocols.
Perfect second visit to England
While many first-timers to Great Britain gravitate towards southern destinations like London, Oxford and Cambridge, Manchester is an excellent choice for a second or third visit.
In addition to everything we’ve already mentioned, with Manchester being a hub-and-spoke destination, there is a wonderful range of expansive day trips available, including visiting: the beautiful walled town of Conwy and majestic castles in North Wales; the Roman city of Chester; the medieval city of York; the maritime city of Liverpool; and the countryside and the stunning scenery of the Peak District and the Lake District.
Perhaps now you can see why Manchester is often called “England’s second city.” With its lively arts scene, superb gastronomic options, world-class hotels, cultural and sports attractions, storied heritage, compact city center, easy day trips, and convenient lift, this destination fits the bill for all types of travelers. And that includes singles, couples, families, multi-generational families, and LGBT lifestyles alike.
FROM THE SPONSOR:
Avanti is the perfect guide for your clients’ exploration of the ever evolving and endlessly innovative city of Manchester, the “Gateway to the North.” Visiting this cultural hotspot and city of sport is made easy with nonstop flights from the U.S. to Manchester, while the city itself serves as an ideal hub for exploring The Lake District, Liverpool, Northern Wales, and more. Managing all of these connections between excursions is made easy and seamless with Avanti, as we will help you and your clients book private transfers outside the city while also assisting with navigating Manchester’s efficient public transit network. Of course, your clients can expect world-class accommodations within the city and unforgettable experiences as they traverse the city’s many attractions. Become an expert on everything Manchester by checking out our Visit Manchester microsite.
For 40 years, Avanti has worked exclusively with travel advisors, tailoring our services to your needs as we help you design your clients’ customized travel experiences. We are recognized as a preeminent provider of independent travel in Europe, Central and South America, and Asia, focused on delivering authentic experiences with great service. We deliver personally selected products backed by excellent customer service, and we use innovative technology with a human touch. Get started by visiting our Agent Portal today.