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Midlands regions to join forces to create international 'Shakespeare 2016' marketing campaign

A Midlands-based tourism partnership has unveiled a new ‘Shakespeare 2016’ campaign designed to boost international visitors and students, as the region celebrates 400 years of William Shakespeare’s legacy.

The campaign is led by Shakespeare’s England, Marketing Birmingham, Leicester Shire Promotions and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and supported by the GREAT UK Challenge Fund.

It will use the region's connections with Shakespeare to entice visitors from the North American market to experience a cultural break in the Midlands. The Shakespeare 2016 campaign is one of a number of projects to benefit from the Government’s GREAT Britain campaign*.

Central to the campaign is a new Shakespeare microsite launched today – the first digital platform to showcase all 20 of the Midlands’ key destinations and attractions associated with the playwright. Placed alongside the VisitBritain website and targeting a US audience, the new site aims to inspire and engage potential visitors, enabling them to pinpoint attractions along a 100 mile route linking Birmingham, Leicester, and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Emma Gray, Director of Marketing and Communications at Marketing Birmingham, said: “It’s a real honour to be part of the Midlands partnership responsible for commemorating and promoting the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s legacy. This milestone will help to reinforce the region’s reputation as a global destination for cultural and heritage tourism.

“The words of Shakespeare have drawn tourists here for hundreds of years, from all walks of life, spanning continents and cultures. Visitors from the worlds of literature, academia and every creative medium have long drawn inspiration from the historical landmarks of Shakespeare here in the Midlands.

“The new Shakespeare site will open doors of opportunities for businesses and attractions across the area. It will provide a seamless way to connect with international visitors, helping us to showcase the iconic spots and hidden gems associated with Shakespeare that exist here.”

The campaign is also supported by the British Council, which will be working with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to promote the Midlands as a world-class destination of choice for international students. Between March 13th – 19th, 20 US-based high school counsellors will tour and meet with representatives from over 20 universities from across the region.

Dr. Diana Owen, Chief Executive Officer at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, added: “There is a wealth of learning opportunities available to international students throughout the region. We are pleased to welcome the group here to Shakespeare’s Birthplace so that they can see first-hand what an inspirational destination Stratford-upon-Avon can be for learners.”

Helen Peters, Chief Executive at Shakespeare’s England, added: “As the original home of William Shakespeare; the world’s greatest ever playwright, the Midlands region will be taking centre stage in 2016 as we mark one of England’s most significant celebrations in recent history. This is an ideal time to cement the Midlands’ place as a global educational and cultural hub.”

From March 5th – 12th, the Shakespeare 400 campaign will also see Midlands representatives travel to key North American markets including New York, Las Vegas and Boston, to promote the region’s tourism offer to a number of leading tour operators.

Martin Peters, Chief Executive of Leicester Shire Promotions, added: “World-class cultural institutions across the region will unite behind the common theme of Shakespeare this year. From events at the King Richard III Visitor Centre here in Leicester, to the Shakespeare’s Birthday Parade taking place in Stratford-upon-Avon, we plan to lead a nationwide celebration that visitors will always remember.

“A third of tourists already visit the Midlands for its eclectic cultural scene. We hope that by educating travel agents overseas, we can further build on the region’s growing reputation as a world-class destination for arts, literature and culture.”

For further information on the wide range of Shakespeare-themed experiences available in the Midlands region, please visit the VisitBirmingham website.