Southampton is medium-sized city in Southern England that is a regional centre for employment, retail, education and leisure. It has a population of circa 254,000, over 1 million within a 45-mile catchment area, and welcomes 4 million visitors each year. The city has a plethora of assets the main ones being:
- a long history as a trading port with the most productive container port in the UK
- the UK’s largest cruise operation and Europe’s leading turnaround cruise terminal
- two high performing universities with complementary teaching and research strengths a premiere league football club
- an attractive public realm including city centre parks
- new centres for cultural activity and a growing creative scene
- connections with significant events and people from English history
- a multicultural community that promotes tolerance and inclusivity
- proximity to attractive locations such as the New Forest and South Downs National Parks
- good road and rail connections to the capital, London
- an international airport connecting Southampton with European and UK destinations.
The physical development of the City Centre has seen a renaissance, particularly in culture, retail and hospitality, since the introduction of the partnership-led City Centre Masterplan in 2012. The masterplan sets out a vision for £3 billion of development centred around Quarters and ‘Very Important Projects’ (VIPs). Already, £2.9 billion has been invested.
Stakeholders in the city share an ambition to make the most of these assets and developments for the economic and social well-being of its communities by attracting more investment, higher visitor numbers, high-achieving students and skilled workers and businesses and entrepreneurs that have the talent and creativity to support economic growth.
There is a recognition that raising the city’s profile, improving its reputation and sharpening its identity are central to this ambition. Stakeholders want the city to be known, locally, nationally and internationally, as a great place to live, visit, study, work and invest and do business in. They believe that wider recognition of the city’s assets, past and present will contribute to profile raising and that better differentiation, achieved by establishing a USP or similar as well as a more collaborative approach to promotion and communication will help attract the money and people necessary to Southampton’s success.
- Mayflower 400 in 2020
- Southampton 800 in 2022
- A potential bid in 2021 to become UK City of Culture in 2025.
To make the most of these opportunities the city is taking a fresh approach to place promotion. A city leadership group has embarked on a project to develop a coherent and compelling place narrative plus a framework for promotion that a wide range of stakeholders can support and use as well as a set of practical plans for promotion and development of key sectors including tourism, culture and creative industries, retail, hospitality, education and marine/maritime.