City Has the Chance of a Lifetime to Decide Where to Go from Here; Neil Hodgson Hears the Forthright Views of David Wade-Smith on Liverpool's Strategy

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil Hodgson

been re-calculated, increasing its annual worth from pounds 1.4bn to pounds 3.2bn and supporting 42,600 jobs compared with 25,000 by 2012.

By 2020 Merseyside's tourism economy is estimated to be worth pounds 4.2bn - double previous targets - with 55,500 jobs depending on visitors to the city region.

"In 2007 Visit Britain said Liverpool had the potential to be bigger than Barcelona. There's more to be done, but we are there.

"The city has never looked shinier, cleaner, brighter and never as accessible as now.

"It is recognised well beyond Liverpool's boundaries that Liverpool is being held up as a beacon as to how to transform a city and city region.

"We have got this unbelievable reputation as a visitor centre now. But where do we want to be? Is it bigger than our nearest competitors in 30 years or bigger than Birmingham in a generation? "The question now is, is the visitor economy ready to stand on its own with its own leadership and chief executive? In my opinion, with a potential value of pounds 4.2bn, it does warrant its own focuses and targeted structure," said Mr Wade-Smith.

He believes the same is true of the knowledge economy which, he insists, can be developed regionally from Liverpool's world-class asset base.

"The knowledge economy - IT, media, life sciences, the universities, science, bio-sciences, nano-technology - is an area I think, out of all the areas, we need to be thinking regionally, north west and beyond," he said.

He points to the development of digital industries as the region's opportunity to become a global centre of excellence.

"We need a plan and an ambition to be the digital capital of the British isles at the heart of the digital revolution.

"One thing is for sure, there are other cities and regions having similar ideas in China, India, Japan and the US.

"They will all be mapping out plans to be a digital capital and digital hub. …