decrease font-size reset font-size increase font-size

York Tourism Conference reveals plans for 2016 and announces annual tourism figures

2016 will offer more reasons to visit York than ever before; that was the main message at the Visit York annual Tourism Conference, held at York Racecourse today and compered by BBC Look North Presenter Phil Bodmer. And, following on from the Boxing Day floods, tourism chiefs announced plans are afoot for the biggest and best annual tourism campaign yet for York and North Yorkshire.

At the conference a line-up of expert tourism speakers including Martin Green, Chief Executive of Hull UK City of Culture, were welcomed by Chairman of Make It York, Jane Lady Gibson. Also at the event the *annual tourism figures (Jan-Dec 2014) were revealed which show visitor numbers were up by 1.5% from 6.7 to 6.8 million annually, visitor spend has reached a record breaking £608 million, up by 6% from £573 million and the number of jobs supported by tourism is now 20,300 (up from 19,000). Good news for the tourism sector too is that the average spend by day visitors has increased from £36 to £44.86.

The figures have been produced using the **Cambridge model; a nationally recognised tourism model to calculate the volume and value of tourism in a destination.

Two hundred tourism businesses, joined by the Sheriff and Sheriff’s lady, attended the conference which promises to leave the audience in no doubt about the opportunities 2016 will bring for tourism in the city. Themed ‘Evolving York’, delegates received top tips on emerging trends in tourism and future-proofing as well as hear how the city’s assets will be marketed world-wide this year. A special Conference Exhibition also offered delegates free advice and tips on a range of relevant topics.

Kate McMullen, Head of Consumer Products and Marketing, Make It York, began the conference by sharing the annual Economic Impact statistics and revealing plans for a brand new marketing drive. Special guests from across Yorkshire also shared their 2016 news with the audience.

Kate said, ‘We know it has been a very difficult start to the year for businesses. However, these latest tourism figures are a sign of confidence in York and are testament to the city’s popularity and resilience. After the Boxing Day floods it is now more vital than ever that our marketing reaches audiences world-wide. There truly are more reasons to visit York and Yorkshire than ever before and we’ll make sure the city is put firmly on the ‘must visit’ list this year for new and repeat customers both at home and abroad.’

New marketing initiatives include; a new focus on social media for York across Twitter and Facebook, adding Instagram @visityork as a visual marketing tool, a new Blogger campaign to increase online content for York, increased international marketing targeting the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and China as well as plans for a brand new UK national marketing campaign. Through its Science City brand, GAMBIT, plans for a smartphone app to guide visitors to attractions based on real-time information will also be revealed.

The international campaign, funded by the Northern Tourism Growth Fund, is being led by the national tourism agency VisitEngland, working closely with VisitBritain and other destinations from across the North.

To attract and increase international conferences, a new project will be launched, working with leading lights in their field to bid for York to host their Association conference or event. The Association sector accounts for 26% of conference business in York; higher than the national average of 18%. Business tourism generates an estimated 977,000 delegates attending a meeting or conference in York, generating £141 million for the local economy.

Headline speaker Martin Green, Chief Executive and Director of Hull UK City of Culture, also shared his vision of how tourism businesses can benefit from Hull’s re-generation and transformation. Martin said, ‘Hull UK City of Culture is an opportunity not just for Hull but for the whole of Yorkshire. I’m delighted to join forces with tourism businesses across York and the area to share our vision for the future.’

Guest speakers from some of the city’s top tourist attractions also announced their plans for the New Year; including details about the homecoming of the Flying Scotsman at the National Railway Museum, the much anticipated re-opening of York Theatre Royal, the newly opened Living Heritage Centre at the Bar Convent and the return of York Mystery Plays to York Minster in May.

Other speakers included; Molly Flatt, Freelance Journalist and Consultant, Jonathan Winchester, Chief Executive and Founder of Shopper Anonymous and Richard Bryan, Managing Director of York based research company Qa Research. The event included a panel debate of tourism experts; Reyahn King, Chief Executive of York Museums Trust, Martin Witts, Founder of the Great Yorkshire Fringe, Graham Usher, General Manager of the Monkbar Hotel and Tom Pearcy, Owner, York Maze.

Michelle Brown, Marketing Manager, Make It York, said, ‘We’re working full steam ahead to target the travel trade, tour operators, conference organisers and consumers to shout loud and proud about York. From award-winning attractions to our year round festival programme, our success depends on surpassing expectations of our customers. Tourism businesses in York help us to do just that by continually advancing our tourism and cultural offer. We’ll make sure customers are in no doubt there’s never been a better year to visit York.’



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:

*Annual tourism figures revealed are for Jan 2014 – Dec 2014. These annual figures are the most recent and up to date figures. Annual tourism figures for 2015 (Economic Impact) will be known at the end of 2016.

**Local data, gathered through the Visit York Annual Visitor Survey, UK Conference and Meeting Survey, as well as monthly business performance monitors, alongside national data from the GB Tourism Survey, International Passenger Survey, GB Day Visits Survey and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings are all input into the Cambridge model.

Make It York (York’s Destination Organisation) has an overarching remit to market the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, stud, work and do business. The 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

New key tourism facts:
6.8 million visitors annually, £608 million total visitor spend, supporting 20,300 jobs