Who’d have known it? Southampton has been revealed as a top UK destination for foreign tourists, according to latest figures reported by The Daily Echo.
Well, not exactly top, but it bagged 18th place. The stats show that 221,000 overseas visitors came for a stay of at least one night in 2013. Yes- a stay meaning a holiday. A holiday in Soton.
While it was beaten by a dozen and a half other British cities, with the likes of London (16.7 million), Edinburgh (1.3 million) and even Birmingham (941,000) coming out way above, Southampton managed to top its south coast rivals.
Enjoy a leisurely stay at the Highfield Hotel, and enjoy the wonders of Portswood…
Indeed, both beachy Bournemouth and posh port Portsmouth failed to make it into the top 20.
For some reason, tourists from overseas are choosing Soton, our university town- the place where we spend the majority of the time either head down in assignments or getting off our faces- as a place to enjoy a holiday.
And it’s nothing to do with the city’s port status. The only ferry crossings to Southampton are from the Isle of White- hardly where the foreign tourists are coming from.
So what is the attraction? There must be something beyond the university, the buzzing student nightlife and the cheap late-night grub that is luring these tourists in.
Perhaps we are just so fixed within the student bubble that we fail to recognize what cultural wonders the city has to offer. Maybe that old wall they call Bargate is in fact a fascinating historical monument, and the city’s rundown port is still a marvel of Britain.
The beautiful Bargate: highlight of the holiday…
Or maybe the reality is that Southampton deceives its visitors.
Realistically speaking, many naive tourists are probably drawn in by the geographical ‘seaside’ location and the surprisingly large selection of hotels in the city. They are then no doubt wholly dissatisfied when they find themselves in the middle of an urban city that barely has a port let alone a beach, surrounded by students, and left with few family activities to do other than shopping.
So do these stats suggest that we, as students, are desperately ignorant as to the culture and beauty that the city has to offer? Or does Southampton just do a good job at tricking all these poor tourists into thinking that it is more than a city of students, seedy old docks and a ceaseless stream of Unilink buses?
Give us your views in the comments below.