Business tourism boost for York

THE number of business tourists visiting York has helped boost the city’s economy by £132.4m, according to research.

Figures published by Visit York following a year long survey show that money generated through business events rose by 35% from 2006 to 2007.

The impressive results are due to an increase in the number of businesses bookings – both non-residential and residential events in York – and an increase in the average residential rate.

Nearly 60% of conference business in York was undertaken on a day basis while 43% of events involved an overnight stay – an increase on the previous year when only a third of events involved an overnight stay.

Good news for the city’s business tourism is the finding that York’s conference delegates were more likely to be staying overnight than other delegates attending conferences in the rest of the region or in the rest of the UK (based on regional and UK averages).

More than 1.3 million delegates attended events in York, generating in excess of 1.8 million delegate days – an increase of 0.2m delegate days from the previous year.

There were an estimated 34,635 business events in York in 2007 compared to 25,800 the year before – an average of 610 events per venue.

The majority of events (85%) were conferences and meetings. Banquets and dinners made up 14% of all events and exhibitions about 1%.

The average event size was 35 delegates and most events (72%) had 50 or less delegates – nearly 10% had more than 100 delegates.

This was a similar profile to the previous year, but lower than the Yorkshire (43 delegates) and UK (50 delegates) averages.

The most common conference size in York was eight to 20 delegates (37% of the city’s conferences). Around 35% of the city’s conferences were between 21-50 delegates in size, which is higher than the Yorkshire and UK averages.

Kate McMullen, marketing manager for Visit York said: “Conferences and meetings generate important revenue for York and we should not underestimate the economic impact that business tourism has on the city.

“This is a market with growth potential, particularly as the results show that York can attract more overnight stays in this market than most other UK destinations. We need now to build on our success so far and to strengthen our offer to conference organisers.”

The survey also found that on average around half of business generated was from within the city itself with 32% from the Yorkshire region and around a fifth from further afield. A mere 3% was from overseas.

Venues had mixed opinions about the prospects for 2008, with 36.8% predicting that business would be up whereas 36.8% felt that business would go down.

Twenty venues across York, ranging from hotels such as the Park Inn, the Grange and York Marriott and more unusual venues such as the National Railway Museum, Bedern Hall and York Museums Trust (the Hospitium, York Castle Museum and York Art Gallery), took part in the year long survey.