Top name speakers for tourism event

TWO of the top names in English tourism will be among the speakers next month at Destination Suffolk, the county’s premier event for the tourist sector.

James Beresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, will give a presentation on the state of the national tourism economy and reveal how Visit Britain has developed its national marketing strategy.

He will be joined by Chris Foy, head of 2012 for VisitBritain, who will explore the opportunities for tourism businesses presented by by 2012 London games and explain how Suffolk tourism businesses can capitalise.

Destination Suffolk, staged annually by economic development partnership Choose Suffolk, is being held this year at the Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa complex on Wednesday, March 2.

“Tourism is a significant economic driver for Suffolk worth over �1.74billion,” said Tim Passmore, Choose Suffolk’s chief executive.

“We know it generates 34,000 jobs, we know as a sector it is growing in importance all the time. We want as many people as possible to share in this opportunity.

“We know that many individuals, groups and businesses are starting to gear up for London 2012,” he added.

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“Destination Suffolk is a great opportunity for them to come and hear from experts in tourism. Our speakers are at the heart of bringing visitors to the UK in the next two years and beyond.”

The keynote speech at the conference will be given by Suffolk-based countryside campaigner Caroline Cranbrook, a champion of the county’s high-value local food and drink economy who will explore the opportunnities for food tourism.

Also speaking at the event will by Sally Everett, head of the division of tourism and leisure at the University of Bedford, who has recently published research into the importance of local food and drink to the visitor consumer and the growing phenomenon of food tourism.

“Destination Suffolk provides the ideal opportunity for Suffolk’s tourism professionals to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities the sector faces,” said Brigit Parker, marketing manager for Choose Suffolk.

“The conference is always inspirational but also focuses on real opportunities and practical steps people can take away and apply to their own organisations.”

The conference programme will also include a series of informal, interactive workshops focusing on public relations, practical steps tourism businesses can take to be ready for 2012, skills and social media. The social media workshop will be presented by Justin Reid, head of digital for VisitBritain.

Those wishing to attend the conference can reserve their places online at http://www.choosesuffolk.com/tourismpartnership/conference.asp .