VisitAberdeenshire hosts its biggest tourism conference to date

Chris Foy
Chris Foy

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North-east tourism agency VisitAberdeenshire has held the largest tourism conference of its kind in the region, and attracted 210 tourism professionals from a wide cross section of businesses. The event was opened by an address from Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Delegates heard from tourism insights expert David Edwards who discussed forecasting tourism trends. Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound, focused on the importance of the travel trade and Marc Crothall, CEO of Scottish Tourism Alliance, highlighted how the North-east feeds into the national tourism strategy.

Chris Foy, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire said, “Today we demonstrated how the work we deliver at VisitAberdeenshire, alongside our funders and the North-east tourism industry can build momentum towards our £1billion annual visitor spend target by 2023.  In 2018 our promotional campaigns reached a record 20 million targeted potential visitors, as we work to ensure the North-east visitor economy continues to grow in an ultra-competitive global marketplace. Today we announced that our work with travel trade last year alone has already secured over £600,000 of new business. While the Aberdeen Convention & Events Bureau, alongside TECA are bidding for £10million worth of conference business that, if successful will bring thousands of delegates from around the world to the North-east. In 2018 we made real headway to position the region as a great place to visit and do business. We must keep this momentum going into 2019 and beyond as more great visitor experiences open.”

Councillor Douglas Lumsden, Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader and Convener of the City Growth and Resources Committee, said: “The tourism sector is central to the Regional Economic Strategy’s aim of diversifying our economy and the annual conference plays an important role in bringing together businesses and organisations with a wide range of interests but with shared ambitions. Aberdeen City Council is committed to working with the industry to enhance the city’s reputation as a destination and our continued investment in the City Centre Masterplan, which includes the redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery and reinvention of Union Terrace Gardens, and other major capital projects, such as The Event Complex Aberdeen, demonstrates that. Working with partners we have also been able to transform Aberdeen’s events calendar and our growing profile worldwide is presenting opportunities for the tourism sector to grow and evolve.”

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said, “As seen in many other parts of the world, and especially here in Scotland, tourism is an increasingly important element of a local economy and we as a council recognise that. We have so much to offer in terms of our history and natural heritage, as well as many excellent local tourism and food and drink businesses ready to welcome visitors and provide amazing experiences. Hopefully this conference will have given those businesses some additional confidence and knowledge about their important role in the growth of our visitor economy and will contribute to an even stronger local offering.”

Jennifer Craw, chief executive of Opportunity North East commented, “The successful development of North-east of Scotland’s tourism sector will deliver long-term business growth, higher value employment and provide new opportunities for people and communities in a diversified regional economy. To achieve the ambition of £1bn visitor spend a year by 2023, we need to focus our collective resources on the highest impact markets where we have both competitive strength and know visitors will spend more time and money in the region. ONE’s priority is to work with the sector to maximise investment in these markets and associated product development.”

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said, “From the vibrant city life, rich history and heritage, to impressive coastal and rural landscapes, the North-east clearly has a lot to offer visitors and it’s fantastic to see the region grow as a tourist destination thanks to the leadership of VisitAberdeenshire. Scottish Government investment through the Aberdeen City Region Deal and work to improve transport links through the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route as well as funding for the Music Hall, is helping to support industry and the economy. It’s great to see support for tourism in the North-east paying off with the New York Times putting Aberdeen in the top 52 places to visit in 2019, and the region on track to delivering the £1 billion annual visitor spend target by 2023.”

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