With over 16,000 meetings, conferences and events taking place in York business tourism generates £148.9 million annual income for the city, representing 25% of total visitor spend in the city.
Laura Freer, marketing manager for VisitYork4Meetings, the business tourism arm of Visit York, said, ‘Our aim is to ensure that York is just as popular a destination to hold a conference or event as it is for a leisure break. With a raft of investment planned at some of the city’s key venues, we plan to attract high profile conferences and events into York for 2015 and beyond.’
Hotel developments include the £3 million transformation of the Best Western Monkbar Hotel, a major investment project which will increase this city centre hotel’s status from three star to four star plus. The work includes a new function suite and conference space, with total capacity for meeting space increased from 140 up to 250 delegates.
National Trust properties Middlethorpe Hall and Goddards have both invested in their corporate offering. Middlethorpe Hall has refurbished its conference facilities, including the self-contained Barlow Room, adjacent to the 17th century William and Mary country house. Goddard’s, the Grade I listed former home of chocolate entrepreneur Noel Goddard Terry opened to business visitors for the first time
On the attractions front, investments include the £8 million redevelopment of York Art Gallery, which will see the gallery space increased by 60%, as well as the addition of a suite of three new galleries. The art gallery will reopen in summer 2015 and will be available for corporate functions including drinks receptions. Also in 2015, a £4.1m capital redevelopment at York Theatre Royal will see the most significant investment in the theatre since the 1960’s, which will nvolve doubling the size of the entrance and public areas, as well as major changes inside the auditorium – including the stage and stalls seating – to increase its flexibility and accessibility.
York Racecourse meanwhile will add a sixth restaurant to its offering with the new Parade Ring Restaurant opening on 13 May, the first day of the racing season. Situated on the top floor of the Weighing Room, adjacent to the Parade Ring, the restaurant will provide a fine dining experience, with a private balcony offering stunning views of the Knavesmire track. Suitable for corporate hospitality on race days, the space will be available for hire as a meeting room on non-race days.And finally,
The National Railway Museum is also launching a new incentive space next month. The Countess of York. A refurbished railway carriage, located in the courtyard of the museum, will offer an incentive space for fine-dining and afternoon tea and is available for exclusive hire.
Freer added: "Never before have we seen so much investment in York venue offering in one year. This is an exciting time for business tourism in York and these new developments will add to York’s superb range of state of the art as well as historic and unusual venues. We’re confident we can position York as the must visit conference destination for 2015/16."