Pictured: Tim Squires, Louise Bennett, Hazel Pilling

Business leaders in Coventry say the City of Culture effect is already bringing a much-needed boost to the region on the back of the Covid-19 crisis.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said Coventry 2021 – which began in May and will run through to May 2022 – was not only increasing footfall in the city, it is helping to put the city on the map.

She said: “The opening of Coventry 2021 was moved back to May due to the Covid-19 crisis and, even then, the year had to begin under restrictions.

“It has been incredible to see the way the team has pulled together such amazing events – both online and with limited capacity – and now, with restrictions lifting, there is a buzz in the city and region and people are getting out to a whole range of events.

“I recently had the pleasure of visiting hospitality businesses in the city and walking through areas such as the Precinct, Broadgate and Hertford Street. To see the public realm transformation and the inward investment being made is testament to both the work of our City Council and the City of Culture Trust.

“The Assembly Festival Garden has been extremely busy and the feedback I’ve seen is that it is really helping to boost footfall in the city centre, which is having a positive knock-on effect for businesses.

“There has been so much to see and do already and we are just a quarter of the way into the year, with so much more to come. It has been great to also see events heading out in to Warwickshire, such as The Bullzini High Wire which took place recently at Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park.

“And it has been great to see this reflected in the way the city and the region is being portrayed in the global, national and regional media, bringing much-needed and richly deserved spotlight to Coventry and the surrounding area.

“There is no denying that the past 18 months has been extremely difficult for businesses and individuals but we are so lucky to have City of Culture as a window of opportunity as we have come out of restrictions. We are definitely seeing a much-needed boost to the local economy.

“Despite an incredibly challenging start, my congratulations go to David Burbidge, Martin Sutherland, Chenine Bhathena and all of the team at the Trust for what has been an incredible start to our year.

“My advice to everyone is to find out what’s going on in the city and get out there and make the most of it because this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for Coventry, its businesses and its people.”