‘Not embarrassed to shout about it’: The Whitworth add tourism award to year of ‘surpassing expectations’

The Whitworth Art Gallery claimed the ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year’ at the Greater Manchester Tourism Awards ceremony at Hotel Football on Thursday.

The gallery claimed the prize after reopening earlier in the year following a £15million redevelopment.

The award is yet another to add to their collection having scooped a number of prizes this year, including Museum of the Year – the biggest arts prize in both Britain the world.

Head of Learning and Engagement Esme Ward told MM: “We are very pleased as there’s been so much recently about Manchester really getting on people’s radars.

“It’s just brilliant being recognised on our doorstep as well as contributing towards the city’s tourism.”

The museum’s popularity has played a huge role in their recognition after a memorable year which has seen the number of visitors doubled.

According to Ms Ward, prior to the Whitworth’s closure for redevelopment it attracted around 170,000 visitors.

And since reopening in February it is estimated that 350,000 have visited this year alone.

She said: “We have so surpassed all of our expectations and it’s given all of us on the team quite a lot of good energy.

“With the numbers coming in, and the feedback we’re getting from people in the tourism industry, peers as well as the public coming in, it’s really great.

“We want people to not want to leave!”

Entries for the tourism awards were also judged under various headings.

These included the quality of their customer service, staff training, and innovativeness of their marketing as well as how accessible they are to consumers.

Ms Ward said: “It’s just as well these were the headings we were judged on as they were absolutely at the heart of what the development was about.

“It was about opening up, actually being a part of our environment in Moss Side and reaching out to people who normally wouldn’t come in.”

The multi-million development of the gallery has taken numerous years to get off the ground.

And according to Ms Ward many of those involved could sense that something good would come of their efforts.

She said: “It’s a long a process and I think as we were going through that process we there’s was a momentum and you start to realise there’s great things going on.

“While the success is a by-product, in a way it’s integral to the process because if you aim to be ambitious and do great things you need to not be embarrassed to shout about it.

“It’s exciting times in Manchester at the moment and we’re on a bit of a roll. People are paying attention so it’s all good.”

For more information on the Whitworth Art Gallery, click here

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