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News release

New initiatives for the city launched
at the Make It York annual stakeholder meeting

Three hundred leaders from the York business, culture and tourism community will gather at the Principal York today, to hear the latest news from York’s Destination Management Organisation, Make It York. Since its formation two years ago, Make It York has led the way in marketing the city as a brilliant place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Managing Director, Steve Brown, will announce new initiatives, report on progress so far and set out priorities for the year ahead; all designed to ensure that York’s reputation as a world class destination continues to flourish and positions the city a step ahead of its competitors.

The audience will hear how the York Mediale, the city’s new International Media Arts Festival, planned for October 2018, will engage over 100,000 people in cutting edge media arts, designed to capitalise on the city’s UNESCO City of Media Arts status. York Mediale, a biennial festival, will be developed by Creative Director, Tom Higham, through a new community interest company, working closely with the York Guild of Media Arts and in partnership with a range of organisations across York, the UK and internationally.

Tom Higham, Director, York Mediale, said, “York Mediale is about grasping this opportunity that UNESCO status offers for York and showcasing York’s creative talent in areas such as digital art, gaming, film and computer animation. It’s a chance to develop a world class international media arts festival for York.”

On the business front, a new Business Ambassador Programme will be officially launched at the meeting, which will harness the skills and influence of fifty of the city’s senior business executives. The scheme will encourage York’s top entrepreneurs to promote the city for inward investment and relocation. Geoff Davidson, Director, Arup, said, “Having an office in York brings great resource and opportunity to Arup. I am proud to lead our presence here and can testify to the city’s attraction as a place to do business. I am looking forward to acting as an ambassador for the city and hope to contribute further to the wider success of York.”

On the tourism front a new website will be launched in the Autumn, delivered by leading digital agency, New Mind, appointed to deliver a world class website for the 21st century. already generates over a million unique users each year but with competition from across the globe, Make It York will this year be investing to ensure York has one of the best tourism websites in the country. Fully responsive, will target local, national and international visitors, with a new mobile first experience. It will lead on visual content through impactful media, including film and new personal itinerary building options.

Sally Greenaway, Head of Visit York, a part of Make It York, said, “61% of visitors are now searching for information on their mobile devices. We need to ensure York’s tourism website is slick, efficient and quite simply world class. We are excited about this step change to provide a first class digital experience for every single visitor, for today and the future.”

Internationally, tourism marketing activity will be focussed at audiences in the United States, Europe and China and early discussions with Hainan Airlines could see an Expo for York in Beijing early next year.

The audience will also hear that as the UK’s founding Science City, Science City York (SCY), as part of Make It York, has been busy supporting three key networks, Bioscience, Creative and IT/Digital, as well as building a new Agri-food network, with a brand new £1.7 million business support programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Highlights from the last year will also be disclosed at the event including a campaign to attract fresh, contemporary retailers to York and a new App, which was launched summer 2016 to encourage resident students to explore their city more. Other key initiatives over the last year have included the setting up of York Hive; a crowdfunding platform for community projects in the city, which to date has generated £59,000 of support, new festivals such as the York Easter Festival and hugely popular Ice Trail, as well as new events such as the York Culture Awards, established to showcase York’s vibrant cultural scene.

The audience will also hear how, over the last year, the city’s conference brand Visityork4meetings has generated over £2 million of conference and event enquiries for the city. Added to this a new ‘Incentive England’ project and new video have been launched, to attract high spending incentive travel business and conference buyers to the city.

Chair of Make It York, Jane Lady Gibson, said, “We have had a very focused plan of activity to grow the economy, delivering on a variety of projects to increase inward investment, support the agri-food sector and launching a major tourism campaign following the Boxing Day flooding. Businesses from right across the city and beyond have worked tirelessly with us to support projects which are now paying dividends across a whole range of sectors.”

Other initiatives in the pipeline, include the ambition to bring a Balloon Fiesta to York this Autumn, an event which would see up to fifty hot air balloons filling the skies above York racecourse and plans to help Lunchbox Theatrical Productions to bring an exact replica of Shakespeare’s Globe to the city next summer.


Notes to Editor

Make It York
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.

VisitYork4meetings is a part of Make It York and is the business tourism brand
Under the brand VisitYork4meetings, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a quality destination for conferences, meetings and events.

Science City York is a part of Make It York and is business and innovation brand which supports the city and its surroundings’ creative, science and technology businesses.
Under the Science City brand, Make It York’s aim is to promote York as a brilliant place to do business, helping to support business growth and innovation and to stimulate greater inward investment.

York Means Business is a part of Make It York and is the business support services brand
Under the York Means Business brand, Make It York’s aim is to support business start-up and growth across a range of business sectors, such as financial & professional services, rail and high value manufacturing and to promote York as a brilliant place to do business, helping to stimulate greater inward investment.

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

Key business tourism facts:
An estimated 16,900 business events are attended by a million business event visitors annually
£148.9m spent at venues and in the local destination

Key business & investment facts:
The York economy is currently worth *£5.07billion (GVA), supporting around 8,790 businesses and 116,000 jobs. *figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Science City Facts:
Science City York has created over 100 companies and assisted thousands more.
Science City York has secured more than £30 million investment for clients.
Science City York has partnered businesses with the right people from over 3000 businesses and industry contacts in York and further afield. Science City York supports technology driven businesses in the creative, IT & digital and bioscience industry areas including Agri-tech and Agri-food.