This weekend, the music world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in New York (on Friday, February 7) and their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show (on Sunday, February 9). In honor of the anniversary, Visit Liverpool hosted a celebration and concert at Times Square's Hard Rock Cafe (housed in the former Paramount Theater, where the Beatles played a benefit show on their last gig of their US tour later on in 1964), with several dignitaries visiting to promote the city’s music scene and tourism appeal.
“The Beatles is a huge part of our tourism industry,” Chris Brown, director of marketing for Marketing Liverpool, told Travel Agent. The Visit Liverpool team, he continued, came to New York to celebrate the musicians and their connection to America—as well as build relationships and encourage travel to the city. “We have the opportunity to build up those relationships going forward,” he said. “It was too good an opportunity for us to miss.”
For Beatles fans, Liverpool is home to The Beatles Story--a museum dedicated to the group--as well as the Magical Mystery Tour of locations significant to the Beatles. “We’ve had special celebrations of the 50th anniversary over the last few years back over in Liverpool,” Brown said. “But this is the big one for us, internationally.” To promote the destination, Liverpool's Cavern Club Beatles band, which performs the classic songs exactly as the Fab Four once did, sang at the Hard Rock Cafe. According to the Cavern Club's website, the band will head south to Florida for several 50th Anniversary concerts, including a concert at Daytona Beach's Ocean Deck on February 14 (call 386-253-5224 for tickets). On Sunday, February 16, to commemorate the Beatles second Ed Sullivan appearance, the band will stay at the Deauville Hotel and will perform at the Hard Rock Cafe Miami. Call the hotel (305-377-3110) for tickets. “The Beatles product never dies,” Brown noted.
When asked what potential visitors and their travel agents need to know about coming to Liverpool, Brown emphasized the ease of access to the city. “Your flight’s direct from Newark into Manchester,” which is a 45-minute drive from Liverpool, he said. The city is also only two hours from London, making it easy for a day-trip or an overnight. “I think a lot of it is about trying to get people to see the value in [visiting Liverpool] when they come to the UK. People go to London, but there’s actually product in Liverpool two hours from that.”
At the reception on Sunday night, several other Liverpool dignitaries spoke, including Councillor Gary Millar, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, who offered to make all attendees honorary “Scousers” (Liverpudlians). The greater Liverpool region, he noted, receives 60 million visitors each year and has been called the third-most important place to visit in the UK after London and Edinburgh (both of them capitals of their respective countries, he added).
Wendy Simon, Liverpool’s assistant mayor, noted the city’s many free museums and artistic options, including an outpost of the Tate and a highly regarded Philharmonic orchestra. The city is also boosting its appeal for the cruise market, she added, with Cunard’s three Queen ships (Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria) due to sail up the River Mersey to celebrate the company’s 175th anniversary in May 2015.