New body to help business tourism across south east

The conference market in southeast England is set to receive a shot in the arm with the founding of a powerful regional tourism body. Tourism South East (TSE), an amalgamation of the Southern and South East England Tourist Boards, was inaugurated earlier this year and aims to strengthen and develop both leisure and business tourism in the area. The decision to conjoin the two existing bodies came on the back of widespread research and consultation, and means the organisation now promotes the business tourism product of nine counties. TSE assistant director of projects Judith Barratt outlined the body’s long-term objectives. "TSE is committed to the support and development of the business and conference market, the architecture of which will be created as the sub-regions develop and their priorities emerge," she said. "We also plan to continue supporting the development of infrastructure through studies that will identify demand for conference facilities." In addition, TSE will run relevant subsidised training programmes. The tourist board’s member bodies have welcomed the move, and are optimistic about the unified approach. Marketing manager for Brighton and Hove Melanie Sensicle said: "TSE’s commitment to business tourism in the region has the potential to really benefit the industry. It will add genuine value to what we already offer, and is likely to bring in fresh outside interest. A ‘super-board’ like this has obvious advantages." A spokeswoman for Conference Winchester, Eloise Appleby, agreed: "We’re certainly looking forward to the chance to work with TSE, although we don’t have a full idea of their business plan yet, so it’s important for us to carry on pulling in business independently." The conference industry represents 13% of the region’s tourism market, which is worth more than £750m annually. Other TSE members include Hilton, Holiday Inn and the Bournemouth International Conference Centre.

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