Hey big spender! Tourism towns cash in on business visitors

Harrogate town centreHarrogate town centre
Harrogate town centre
THE BOOMING business events sector is seeing towns and cities across the UK cash in on tourism spend, new research has found.

Tourism agency VisitBritain/VisitEngland found that delegates are likely to double their spend if they extend their stay for leisure following their conference or event.

And towns and cities with major conference centres could cash in further on business stays, the report says. Researchers found that 62 per cent of delegates at events in Harrogate, home to a convention centre that dates back 200 years, said they were “very likely” to return to the spa town for leisure.

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Chief executive at Visit Harrogate, Richard Spencer, said the agency made a conscious effort to encourage business delegates - of which there are 300,000 each year - to stay on for longer.

“These visitors spend £60m in the town every year - what we want to see is them spend even more,” he said. “We work with hotels on partner programmes to package up experiences that allow them to have a great time during their stay.

“And we want to make sure they come back, and the distinctiveness of Harrogate, with its independent food, beverages and retail, brings them back. There is a huge value to having a convention centre.”

Communications manager at Harrogate Convention Centre, Richard Catton, said: “We welcome hundreds of thousands of business visitors a year to the Convention Centre and we’re aware that many of them return because they love the town.

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“It’s fair to say that Harrogate is our unique selling point. People can leave their conference or exhibition and it’s a five minute walk to the hotels, bars and restaurants.

“Our business visitors are worth £60million a year to Harrogate’s economy so there’s a definite symbiosis, that’s why it’s important for us to sell Harrogate as a destination and not just an event venue.”

The research found that international delegates stay longer compared to domestic delegates, and also spend more.

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