Suffolk Unlocked: Event aims to release Suffolk’s tourism potential

The project team for Suffolk Unlocked: UCS students Matt Scott, Emily Roe, Ben Buck, Jessica Bennewo

The project team for Suffolk Unlocked: UCS students Matt Scott, Emily Roe, Ben Buck, Jessica Benneworth, Kirsty Downes and Gemma Gooch. - Credit: Archant

A major one-day event aimed at releasing Suffolk’s untapped tourism potential is set to take place on March 20.

James Beresford, chief executive of Visit England.

James Beresford, chief executive of Visit England. - Credit: Archant

Preparations are already well under way for the Suffolk Unlocked event, which has been timed to coincide with English Tourism Week from March 14 to 22.

Chief executive of Visit England James Beresford will be the keynote speaker at the conference, hosted by a project team of final year students at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) and held at Trinity Park conference centre, Ipswich.

Visit Suffolk, Trinity Park and UCS are all partners in the initiative, which aims to draw tourism businesses from across the county together at a time of considerable change for the sector.

Organisers want to consider strategies that will unlock the county’s full tourism potential, and continue to place Suffolk at the top of visitor agendas in coming years.

Amanda Bond, Visit Suffolk brand manager

Amanda Bond, Visit Suffolk brand manager - Credit: Archant

Mr Beresford will explain the importance of the tourism industry to the economy and why English Tourism Week is so beneficial to it.

“The tourism industry is characterised by a large percentage – around 80% - of small and medium-sized enterprises,” he explained.

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“These businesses play an extremely important role in the wider tourism economy and form a vital component in the continued growth of the industry. English Tourism Week provides a platform for these businesses, and industry as a whole, to showcase this potential.

“Our confidence that tourism is a driver of the economy is well-founded. The industry already supports an impressive 2.6 million jobs in England alone and whilst a number of industries suffered during the economic downturn in 2008, tourism remained an engine of growth for the UK economy - with holiday spending at home by Brits boosted by 24% between 2008 and 2013.”

Also among the line-up of speakers will be Kurt Janson from the Tourism Alliance, Professor Ian Baxter, head of Suffolk Business School at UCS, and Tim Rowan Robinson, chairman of Suffolk Coastal Destination Management Organisation.

After a locally produced lunch, delegates will have a choice of workshops where they will have the opportunity to benefit from industry experts and to network with their peers.

Visit Suffolk brand manager Amanda Bond said: “Suffolk Unlocked is a great opportunity for a wide variety of stakeholders to discuss the issues facing tourism across the county. We are delighted to be working with a team of talented students from UCS who may well be instrumental in Suffolk’s future success.”

Laura Locke, course leader of the BA Hons Events, Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Management course at UCS, selected the students following previous successful student-led events.

“This event follows a tradition of over 10 years of business-to-business events managed by our gifted and talented students, generously supported by Trinity Park Events, and other Suffolk based organisations,” she said.

“I am very proud of the Suffolk Unlocked project management team who are working hard as event professionals with Visit Suffolk, East Anglian Daily Times and Spring design agency and we’re really pleased so many Suffolk-based businesses have supported us. It is going to be a great event and one to celebrate Suffolk and our tourism achievements.”

Student organiser Emily Roe, from Ipswich, said: “I’ve been brought up in the county, so I’m fortunate to know first-hand how wonderful Suffolk is. That’s why I chose to stay and study here. This event at Trinity Park is about sharing what is great about the county, sharing good practice and we hope an opportunity for businesses to network and pick up helpful, useful tips.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available. If any local businesses are willing to support the conference please email

Tickets for the event, which runs from 9am to 3pm, are £35 and can be purchased from

For information on how to secure a space in the market place at the event, contact