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ExploreGB heads to Yorkshire to ‘entice people away from London’

Harrogate Convention Centre in Yorkshire will host more than 320 suppliers from UK and Ireland at the ExploreGB event.

Taking place from 8-10 May, the event will welcome at least 250 international organisations from 31 countries.

Peter Dodd, Welcome to Yorkshire’s commercial director, talks to M&IT about the importance of events in the north of England.

How important is it that ExploreGB is coming to Yorkshire?
It’s incredibly significant that Yorkshire is hosting VisitBritain’s flagship event in Harrogate and I’m delighted that hundreds of delegates from across the globe will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and explore our magnificent county first-hand.

How much is the event worth in revenue?
It’s too early to know the economic impact of the event, but the value of hundreds of international travel buyers, suppliers and media visiting Harrogate to do business is huge for Yorkshire and will help to promote our county to the world.

Do you think ExploreGB will put Yorkshire on the map as a destination for events?
Yorkshire is an extraordinary place to do business, with a diverse range of unique venues to suit events of all sizes. World class hospitality, stunning destinations and the hosting of major international events are helping to keep visitors flocking and tills ringing.

Peter Dodd, Welcome to Yorkshire’s <br>commercial director.

Peter Dodd, Welcome to Yorkshire’s
commercial director.

Harrogate in particular, offers a variety of business venues – not just Harrogate Convention Centre, where ExploreGB is taking place, but with 14 rooms of various sizes, the award-winning Pavilions of Harrogate is one of the county’s most popular venues; and the contemporary, stylish Yorkshire Event Centre, which offers 6,300 square metres of flexible event space, is the largest of its kind in Yorkshire and the North East.

The spa town of Harrogate also has some of the best hotels in the county, including Rudding Park, which regularly draws national and international events, as well as being a superb venue for more intimate business meetings and dinners. Its extensive grounds also mean that events can be enhanced with outdoor activities.

ExploreGB’s educational trips for international buyers and media during the event present a great opportunity for us to showcase these venues and some of Yorkshire’s other highlights, giving hundreds of delegates in attendance a chance to see the county for themselves.

What is your organisation doing to educate and entice people away from London?
Everything Welcome to Yorkshire does, across its marketing campaigns, partnerships and the hosting of international events, aims to entice visitors get out of the capital and see what the rest of the UK has to offer.

Yorkshire has consistently been the UK’s fastest growing tourism destination in recent years and announced last month that tourism in the county is worth a staggering £9 billion to the Yorkshire economy (an increase of £1 billion in just one year).

We are now working on a strategy for the next ten years, which will help us continue to raise the profile of the county through bold, creative and ambitious marketing campaigns and continue to bring world class events to the region to underpin the vital essence of grassroots tourism.

Yorkshire is within easy reach of London, just two hours away by train – we work closely with one of our partners, LNER, to deliver destination messages together, as well as displaying prominent branding at London stations.

What are overseas travel buyers here to see?
Yorkshire, described as God’s Own County, boasts seven great cities, three National Parks, miles of golden beaches and several UNESCO World Heritage sites. With hundreds of attractions, a wealth of heritage, plus a huge array of food hailing from the county’s award-winning restaurants, there’s something for everyone.

Delegates from Australia, France, Germany and the US will be in attendance, as well as travel buyers from China, Brazil, Canada, India and the Gulf Cooperation Council markets. Through educational trips, they’ll get a chance to see some fantastic places and find out more about Yorkshire – I’ve no doubt that they’ll love it and be back to visit in the future.

Do you have any events from China coming to Yorkshire?
We certainly expect there to be, based on the huge increase in Chinese visitors over the past five years. We’ve had some prominent coverage in Chinese publications such as Vogue China recently too and know all too well how much this market appreciates our stunning scenery, heritage and culture based on how well it’s received by their readers.

We’ve also found that an increased number of our members are specifically catering to Chinese visitors, including restaurants offering Mandarin menus; and attractions offering Mandarin audio tours – and they’re certainly reaping the rewards.