The European Capital of Culture is renowned for its investment into small-medium sized cities all over the EU. The aim of the project is to bring business and tourism into the chosen city through residential redevelopment, business and commercial developments and arts & culture. From previous cities that have held the title, business, tourism and real estate have all been boosted remarkably. It can change the city’s image, raise its visibility and put it on the map. So are countries around Europe queuing up to become the next capital of culture?
There’s a strong interest in the title around the EU, but a lot of countries believe that a share of the spoils between two to three countries, throughout the year, should be limited to just one. Rīga and Umeå have been chosen for 2014 and the Latvian capital, which generates a huge part of Latvian business and tourism, has plans to attract more visitors through modern art, popular music concerts and art exhibitions. Umeå, in northern Sweden, is home to a growing number of IT businesses, attracting young talent and IT professionals to the city. These are two places that both wish to reinforce and strengthen their culture to attract more business and tourism.
In the UK, Liverpool held the title of European Capital of Culture in 2008 and ‘The World in One City’ campaign led to the development of the retail, residential and leisure complex, Liverpool ONE. The revitalisation of the city included a cinema, apartments, offices, public spaces and transport improvements in the city centre. During 2008, the number of overseas visitors (with a big percentage relocating) jumped by 130,000 to 450,000 and over 60% of businesses experienced a 10-50% growth in turnover. The regeneration of the Liverpool docks invited big investment in the serviced apartment sector and it’s still seeing exponential growth. Liverpool saw a multitude of benefits for the city from holding the title, even if they did have to share investment with Norway’s hidden gem of Stavanger. It seems that there’s more than enough to go around for Europe’s emerging cities.