Impact of Pope's visit to Birmingham 'immeasurable', say business leaders
The impact of Pope Benedict’s visit to Birmingham was “immeasurable,” the city’s chamber of commerce has said.
While it is believed to have brought around £12.5 million into the city, the benefits extended to far more than “pounds and pence” it added.
In the region of 60,000 people flocked to Cofton Park for the Beatification Mass on Sunday.
Thousands more lined Hagley Road to catch a glimpse of the Popemobile en route to Birmingham Oratory before it left for Oscott College and then Birmingham International Airport.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce spokesman John Lamb said: “The impact was immeasurable. The exposure and the Pope’s kinds words (about Birmingham) were great.
“It goes beyond pounds and pence, it’s a lot more than that.
“Whatever the monetary value, it will be outweighed by the goodwill.”
He also applauded Birmingham City Council for managing the event.
“It’s extremely difficult to predict what will happen at huge public events,” Mr Lamb said. “It’s a credit to the council that it went so well.”
The city’s equalities chief, Coun Alan Rudge, estimated that the landmark visit had boosted the coffers of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops.
“There’s nearly £12.5 million of economic benefit and the city has limited its cash contribution to £80,000,” he said.
The council was heavily criticised for its handling of the Christmas Lights pop concert at Millennium Point in November last year.
Young music fans, desperate to see the likes of boy band JLS, Sugababes and Alexandra Burke, surged through security barriers injuring about 60 people at the front of the crowd.
The council was criticised for not employing enough security and for failing to forecast such high visitor numbers.
But Coun Rudge said: “We would be in dire straights if we found ourselves unable to host the state visit of a man who leads two billion people across the globe.”