Issued by: Make It York
Issue Date: Thursday 10 January 2019

The full line-up of speakers for the Visit York annual tourism conference has been revealed today. VYCON 2019 will be held on Thursday 24 January at York Racecourse where 300 delegates from across the tourism sector in York, Yorkshire and beyond, are expected to attend. The theme for the conference is ‘Only in York’, York’s tourism marketing campaign for 2019, which will showcase all of the experiences which are truly unique to the city.

Headlining at the event is Wonderful Copenhagen Director of Development, Signe Jungerstad, who will share with the audience their tourism strategy and how, in her words, we’ve reached the “end of tourism as we know it”.

Signe will focus on the theme of ‘localhood’ and how today’s travellers want more than ever to connect with local people, local businesses and to discover more local stories. By focussing on promoting ‘Only in York’ experiences such as afternoon tea aboard the National Railway Museum’s Countess of York, or enjoying evensong at York Minster, Visit York aims to inspire new audiences to visit York in 2019.

Joining Signe will be Head of Visit York, Paul Whiting.  Paul will reveal the latest tourism figures, share highlights of the tourism year and reveal new plans for marketing York in 2019.  New at the conference will be an expert line-up of Talking Heads, who’ll demonstrate how video can boost bookings and increase market share. 

Head of Visit York, Paul Whiting, said: “We’re delighted Signe has agreed to share the success story of Copenhagen.  In such a competitive marketplace York has to pull out all the stops to stand out from other destinations.  Our aim is to inspire new audiences to visit York through innovative storytelling across all our communications channels.”

Signe said: “Our cities have much in common; a vibrant cultural scene, world-class museums and a strong local pride for what’s on our doorstep.  The travel industry is entering an era of change and it’s time to welcome the new traveller.  What people want more and more is to connect with a place, get to know the locals and their personal recommendations.”

Paul added, “We need to inspire our visitors to do more, stay longer and crucially keep coming back. We’ll be making sure we maximise the potential to reach our ambition of creating a £1 billion tourism sector by 2024.”

Head of Global PR and Influencer Marketing, VisitBritain, Emma Mead, completes the stellar speaker line-up and will share the national tourism perspective in her address titled ‘Should your business embrace or avoid influencers?’. Research shows that more and more consumers make travel or buying decisions based on online recommendations by people with shared interests.  Emma will share her insights on working with travel influencers, determining if they are ‘right’ for your business, as well as setting and measuring goals. 

Simon Eyles, Managing Director at Bettys will also speak at the conference. Bettys s one of Yorkshire’s most iconic and successful brands. Simon will share insight into the company’s brand and how it became successful. 

HomeAway has over two million private homes in over 190 countries available for self-catering holidays.  UK Marketing Director of the company – Scott Giles will talk about the growth of alternative accommodation sector and its contribution to the UK tourism sector. 

Karen Mullins, Regional Director UK, Ireland & Emerging Markets at HomeAway said:  “We’re thrilled to be the headline sponsor of the Visit York Tourism Conference.  Our mission is to help holidaymakers from all over the world find their perfect match holiday home in more than 190 countries globally. With York and Yorkshire being one of our most popular destinations for domestic and international holidaymakers, it is with great pleasure to show holidaymakers how they can experience this unique area in their very private HomeAway and enjoy all the benefits a holiday rental has to offer while creating unforgettable memories with their loved ones.”  
Tickets for the conference include lunch and networking opportunities.  Places are limited so book now to avoid disappointment.  Tickets are free for Visit York members and priced at £50 for non-members. For details on how to book, visit  


For further information please contact: 
Kay Hyde – Head of PR and Corporate Communications – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07506 048852

Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554436

Notes to editors:

09.00     Registration, Refreshments and Networking 
09.30     Clare Frisby, BBC Look North and Radio York Presenter our host for the day 
09.35     James Brennan, Head of Marketing and Sponsorship, York Racecourse 
09.40     Paul Whiting, Head of Visit York 
                 Only in York: Looking back on a successful year and what’s next 
10.00     Emma Mead, Head of Global PR and Influencer Marketing, VisitEngland 
                  Should your business embrace or avoid influencers? 
10.20     Scott Giles, UK Marketing Director, HomeAway 
                  A walk in the Travellers Shoes 
10.30     Simon Eyles, Managing Director 
                  Betty’s 100 Years of Betty’s 
10.50     Refreshments and Networking 
11.20     Talking Heads: Making video work for your business. 
                   Wayne Chadwick, The York Roast Co. 
                   Ollie Bostock, Hewitt & Walker 
                   David Leon, York Maze 
                   Tom Outing, York Minster 
11.50     Signe Jungersted, Director of Development, Wonderful Copenhagen 
                   The End of Tourism – and then what? 
12.30     Lunch and Networking 
14.30     Event Closes

Speaker and compere biographies

Signe Jungerstad is the Director of Development in Wonderful Copenhagen, the official tourism organisation for the Capital Region of Denmark. She is responsible for the organisation’s business development and innovation, project and partnership development, research and smart destination development. She oversees the organisation’s work with cultural institutions, focusing on shared innovation to strengthen the synergy between the city’s tourism and its cultural scene. Signe Jungersted is lead designer and author of Wonderful Copenhagen’s 2020-strategy, which declares the end of tourism, as we know it, and sets a future course towards a stronger focus on marketing through enablement, people-based growth and localhood. Signe Jungersted is also Board Member of Odense City Museums, and in 2017, she was selected one of Denmark’s 100 Top Young Talents. She holds a Masters’ degree in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen. 

Simon Eyles is the Managing Director at Betty’s. Simon joined Bettys & Taylors Group in 2011 as Marketing Director for Taylors of Harrogate. He moved across the Group to become Managing Director of Bettys and a member of our Collaborative CEO in June 2016. Simon has spent the majority of his career working with big household brands in the food and retail industry. Prior to joining Bettys & Taylors, Simon was Head of Brand at ASDA, Marketing Director at McCain foods and also worked on the Lurpak brand at Arla Foods. His passions are building brands through a consumer-centric approach

Emma Mead is Head of Global PR and Influencer Marketing for VisitBritain/VisitEngland, responsible for creating, implementing and measuring global strategies, ensuring that activity is integrated throughout the organisation.   Having successfully trialled using influencers as part of the PR programme back in 2012, Emma built on that success, and developed tools and frameworks to enable the organisation to successfully integrate influencers into many of their domestic and international campaigns.   Taking a leading role in shaping marketing processes and the way VisitBritain uses the content generated through the PR and influencer programme is key to the role.

Paul Whiting, Head of Visit York. Paul has spent his career in tourism, starting in the Visit York Information Centre where he fielded questions from their thousands of visitors whilst studying for his history degree. After graduating he took on roles within the business engagement and digital marketing teams at Visit York. After five years it was time for the next big challenge into the world of heritage marketing. Joining The JORVIK Group of attractions in 2013 Paul immediately made his mark with an innovative campaign for the 2014 JORVIK Viking Festival, telling the story of the end of the world with ‘Ragnarok’ – the Viking apocalypse. Paul developed a variety of strategic and holistic campaigns across the five attractions within the group.  He says his biggest challenge came in December 2015 with the flooding of the world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre.  He led the resulting ‘Return of the Vikings’ marketing campaign, which was both a commercial and critical success.  The marketing team were rewarded with wins in the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Awards for both In-House Team and Campaign of the Year. Having worked across the industry; from front-of-house to strategic marketing, Paul has a unique insight and is excited to continue to promote the city to audiences across the globe.

Scott Giles, is UK Marketing Director for the UK and Emerging Markets at HomeAway.

Clare Frisby is a presenter for the Yorkshire and North-Midlands version of Look North and she also presents the popular Radio York Saturday morning show, Finders Keepers. Clare presents the lunchtime bulletins on Look North each weekday. During her time with ‘Look North’, she has won BT News Broadcaster of the Year award for the North East and Yorkshire.  She studied Politics at Hull University, graduating in 1989. She became a BBC News trainee in London in October 1989 and worked in newsrooms throughout the UK for the BBC and was one of the few female reporters in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War.  She was at BBC Radio York for four years. Her television début was as a presenter on Look North and went on to present other bulletins for the region. Clare was one of 18 high-profile Yorkshire women chosen by Councillor Bernard Atha to share the role of consort Lady Mayoress of Leeds 2000–01.

Notes to Editor

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand 
Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York.

Key tourism facts
6.9 million visitors annually, £564 million total visitor spend, supporting 19,000 jobs