Tourist bosses chase conferences

Mark Branagan

A TOURISM boom is on the cards after York and Scarborough announced yesterday they were joining forces to become one of the biggest players in the UK conference trade.

A significant increase in business visitors is expected after Conference York, an arm of Visit York, opened a new “venue finding” service for 100 locations in York, the Yorkshire Moors and coast.

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Visit York already had 60 venues on its books. Now the official tourism organisation for the city is expanding its portfolio to include Scarborough and the North York Moors and coast.

Scarborough won the title Europe’s most enterprising place in this year’s European enterprise awards. York has just been ranked as the seventh most popular place in England for business tourism.

Now, tourism units in York and Scarborough are joining forces to benefit from the strengths each destination has to offer.

A joint portfolio of more than 100 meeting and conference venues – all in one of the UK’s most scenic regions – will be officially unveiled in London in February.

Kate McMullen, marketing manager for Visit York, said: “‘Visit York’s conference expertise has paid dividends over the last few years, with York now benefiting from increased revenue from business tourism.

“By expanding the portfolio of venues on offer across some of the North Yorkshire region, Visit York will be in a position to offer more choice to conference organisers.

“By pooling marketing resources with the Yorkshire Moors and Coast Tourism Partnership, Visit York will be in a much stronger position to market the city and region to business tourists both nationally and internationally.”

Aviva Pearson, chief executive of the Yorkshire Moors and Coast Tourism Partnership, said: “By joining forces with Visit York we will have a formidable conference and event offering to rival anywhere in Britain.

“We’re confident Conference York and Scarborough will be a huge success and we’ll be working closely with tourism colleagues in Visit York to ensure business tourism in the region goes from strength to strength.”

In addition to world class venues such as York’s National Railway Museum, tourism experts will also be promoting the Scarborough Spa, currently undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment and due to open late next year for as many as 1,900 delegates.

The refurbished Scarborough Spa will offer organisers a truly 21st century venue steeped in the tradition of one of the country's original conference towns, officials say.

Ms McMullen added: “Venues in Scarborough perfectly complement those in York. The area between York and Scarborough offers some stunning scenery, country house hotels and stately homes.

“It is the perfect backdrop for executive meetings, team building and incentive trips. Combined with the amazing range of venues York has to offer means that we will be able to find the perfect venue to suit almost every type of conference and budget.”

Called Conference York and Scarborough, the initiative will be officially unveiled at Confex, the biggest conference exhibition in the UK, on February 23.

Scarborough Council’s tourism manager Janet Deacon continued: “This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses across the area. York has a well established conference desk with knowledgeable staff, working together will result in increased business for the whole area.

“Scarborough’s recent success in being awarded most enterprising place in Europe’ and the superb improvements being made to the Spa, together with investment tourism businesses have made, demonstrate to our customers the commitment Scarborough is making to business tourism.”