IT’S fair to say there has been a better than expected buoyant start to the year. We started with a farewell to the DreamWorks Animations at St Georges Hall in mid-January, which enjoyed a successful six-week period in the city and was enjoyed by many, and the whole idea and movement sets us up to build on this style of offering for the years ahead. 2017 looks set to be another fabulous year in Liverpool, however I am sure many of us in the industry still proceed with caution. There are some real challenging times ahead commercially, yet I am extremely optimistic about what the city is doing and creating for the visitor experience. The recent unveiling of the ‘Cilla Black’ statue in Mathew Street, adds to the city’s growing music heritage, and without doubt, helps to bring a massive solid base of international and national visitors to the city each and every year. And, of course, this March sees the opening of the new British Music Museum in the Cunard building – a further statement to the city’s music heritage scene, as the only one of its kind in the UK, so truly another big feather in our cap. It just goes to show, that even during challenging times of funding cuts, our city still punches above its weight in respect to being a huge attraction for visitors. Some of the other key events to look forward to in 2017 include: April – The Grand National & European Taekwon-Do Championships at the Liverpool Echo Arena May – Tall Ships Regatta, Rock n Roll Marathon & Royal College of Nursing Conference June – Mersey River Festival, National Arms Forces Day & National Federation of Women’s Institutes Annual Meeting July – LIMF & British Golf Open Championships August – International Beatles Week & ICCE Global Coach Conference September – Liverpool Wedding Show & Merchant Navy Day On a Know Hospitality front, whilst we had a challenging end to 2016 in some respects – The Richmond had its best Christmas Numbers since opening. As we look into 2017, we see: Nourish – Liverpool’s Premier Female Only Boutique Spa, Gym & Wellbeing Centre in Hatton Garden, enjoying a solid start with lots of new members setting their health and wellbeing goals to focus on. The amazing Love Thy Neighbour on Bold Street is also taking a real approach to wellbeing through diet, and is serving up some great dishes for vegans and vegetarians alike. It is truly becoming one of Bold Street’s premier venues and we highly recommend a visit, and also advise that in early December, they launched their unique basement “Hub” offering amazing private hire options for unique and quirky events of all descriptions. We could also see a further venue in 2017, so watch this space! The Hotel market place in the city continues to pace exceptionally well, and 2017 sees the return of the Liverpool Hoteliers Association Awards later in the year, with this year anticipating us to hit in excess of 300 attendees. Also, this month we celebrated Visitor Economy Week, with a key drive in showcasing the Industry. The week included over 50 events, involving school children, students, teachers, parents and employers. There was also high profile guests and activities in every district within the Liverpool City Region. More information available at www.visitoreconomyweek.co.uk In addition to the above, the British Hospitality Association also put its support behind Liverpool’s growing sector bringing its Big Conversation Event to Anfield for an open discussion on the challenges facing the industry. This is a very positive statement which shows they view Liverpool as a real hitter in the industry right now – a great start to 2017! With the news of our Metro Mayor taking shape in May, we look forward to having the full support to keep the continuing successes in the sector growing ever more.