The Harrogate International Centre (HIC), which brings an estimated £60m a year in revenue to the region, is to be renamed the Harrogate Convention Centre as part of the plans.
With a new logo and branding it is hoped the complex, famed for once hosting the Eurovision Song Contest, can “modernise and strengthen” its competitiveness in a worldwide market.
“Harrogate exists, and has always existed, to host visitors,” said Simon Kent, HIC director. “We’re good at it, and we’ve been doing it for a long time.
“The name change is a small part of our strategy that we’ve been working on for some time. It’s all about raising the profile of Harrogate as a destination.
“Clearly Harrogate does have a good reputation, we hope to enhance it.”
The HIC will change its name in April, with the new name and logo to replace the old branding, and a new website launched. In a tough market, say decision makers, a re-brand is key to keeping the business up to date.
“The HIC is a critically important part of Harrogate,” said Coun Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) which owns the complex and chairman of the convention centre board. “Without the convention centre, Harrogate would be a very different place indeed.
“It’s critically important for the thousands of jobs it underpins. It also brings £60m spend into the economy. That’s spending in shops, restaurants, hotels.
“Conference centres have to move with the times. We are competing against not just UK venues but worldwide venues. To compete, we have to make sure that we are current.”
Funding for the £12,000 project has come from within the Convention Centre’s annual marketing budgets and the business has used local companies to carry out all the work.
The change aims to put more emphasis on the word ‘Harrogate’ in the name, Coun Cooper said, recognising the strength of the spa town’s reputation as a centre for major international businesses such as Bettys and Taylors and Harrogate Spa Water.
“We know that the Harrogate brand is a strong one,” said Coun Cooper.
“We want to capitalise on brand Harrogate in order to continue to attract top conferences and top exhibitions, and more of them. It’s a proper world-class venue.
“Harrogate Convention Centre has a very exciting future.”