Visit York Tourism Conference 2022 looks ahead to ‘tourism in a post-pandemic world’

‘What kind of tourism do we want for the future and how can we get more from York’s visitor economy?’ will be the main topics of debate at the upcoming virtual Visit York Tourism Conference which will take place on Thursday 13th January 2022.  Businesses from across the city are invited to take part in this event which will explore how we can maximise York’s potential as a creative, inclusive and innovative place to live and visit. The virtual event is sponsored by LNER with tickets now available to book online.   

The event, compered by BBC Look North & BBC Radio York Presenter Clare Frisby, has a line up of expert tourism speakers including: Signe Jungersted and Peter Rømer Hansen, Founding Partners of Group NAO; Richard Nicholls, Head of Research and Forecasting at Visit Britain; and Aileen Crawford, Head of Tourism & Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau – with a welcome from Sarah Loftus, the newly appointed Managing Director of Make It York. A panel of tourism businesses including Abbi Ollive, Head of Marketing and Sales at Castle Howard; Andrew Lowson, Executive Director at York BID; Rebecca Hill, Managing Director at Galtres Lodge; and Kate McFerran, Communications Director at LNER, will also share their vision for the visitor economy and how we take a more holistic approach to York as a destination.  

Keynote speakers Signe Jungersted and Peter Rømer Hansen from Group NAO will lead the debate on how we can “build back better” post-pandemic and ensure our tourism industry creates value for the city beyond the typical metrics of growth in visitor numbers and visitor spend.  Looking at how we can take inspiration from cities across Europe, Group NAO have put together an in-depth report to explore the opportunities for York’s visitor economy. Presenting on their findings, Signe and Peter will discuss how the tourism industry can work together to develop and deliver a bigger, broader and bolder tourism strategy for the city post-covid.  

Delegates will also hear the latest insights and market trends from Visit Britain on the return of international tourism and learn more from Glasgow Convention Bureau on how business tourism can take the lead on a city’s sustainability strategy.  

Ashley Young, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager at Make It York, said ‘“We have a packed programme lined up for our next Visit York Tourism Conference, with insights from a range of expert speakers across the industry. Looking at how we maximise the value of our visitor economy will be key as we develop our tourism strategy post-covid and we are delighted to welcome Signe and Peter from Group NAO to present the findings from their recent research into the opportunities for York’s tourism industry. We will also be exploring key issues across the sector such as the return of international travel and how we ensure a sustainable approach to tourism. We look forward to bringing this event back for 2022 and welcoming businesses across the city to join us in the debate on how we create a bold vision for the future of the city’s tourism industry.”  

Signe Jungersted, CEO and Founding Partner at Group NAO, said: “There is an important paradigm shift taking place in tourism these years, shifting from tourism as an isolated goal in itself to tourism as an integrated means to sustain better quality of life in the cities that welcome tourism. In interviews and discussions with representatives of York’s wider visitor and experience economy, it became clear that while most agree York has fared well through the crisis, there is a strong and shared ambition to take a leap further into the future and rebuild York’s visitor economy in a more sustainable and integrated way. We can’t wait to discuss what that future might look like with everyone at the Visit York Tourism Conference 2022” 

Sponsors of VYCON22, LNER’S Managing Director David Horne said: “We are proud of the role LNER plays in York’s tourism industry, with our business delivering an annual contribution of more than £486 million to the Yorkshire and Humber economy. Our environmentally friendly fleet of Azuma trains offer the most sustainable and enjoyable way for people to come and explore the great range of attractions, heritage and culture on offer. The Visit York Tourism Conference 2022 is an invaluable opportunity to come together and build on the great work already underway to attract even more people to come and experience York.” 


For further information please contact:  

Sarah Foster – Communications Manager at Make It York 

Direct Line: 07719105088 


Notes to Editors: 

Virtual Conference Timings

09:30 Conference Opens – Clare Frisby

09:35 Welcome – Sarah Loftus

09:45 When will International Tourism Return? – VisitBritain

Richard Nicholls, Head of Research and Forecasting at VisitBritain, covers the latest insights and market trends from Visit Britain on the return of international tourism to the UK. 

10:05 Tourism for a Better City – Group NAO

In Autumn 2020, Make it York commissioned Group NAO to elaborate on how York’s visitor economy could ‘build back better’ post pandemic.

Group NAO scanned the European horizon for inspirational reference cases and interviewed close to 20 key stakeholders in York’s visitor economy and city management about their inspirations and aspirations for the future.

Signe Jungersted and Peter Rømer Hansen, founding Partners of Group NAO, present the results from this research.

10:35 Becoming a sustainable destination – Glasgow Convention Bureau

We hear from Aileen Crawford, Head of Tourism & Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau, about how business tourism can take the lead on a city’s sustainability strategy, becoming a sustainable destination and getting the accreditation to prove it.

As part of their journey towards city resilience, Glasgow City Council and Visit Glasgow have joined the GDS (Global Destinations Sustainability) movement, the world’s leading benchmarking and performance improvement programme for tourism destinations.

10.55 Break

11:10 Panel discussion 

A panel of tourism businesses share their vision for the visitor economy and how we take a more holistic approach to York as a destination.

11.30 Conference closes 

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events and culture.  

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand  

Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. 

About the Speakers 

Richard Nicholls, Head of Research and Forecasting at Visit Britain 

Richard Nicholls joined VisitBritain in 2015 as Head of Research and Forecasting. He and his team are responsible for analysis of inbound tourism data, insights and prospects both for VisitBritain and for the benefit of the wider UK tourism industry. 

Signe Jungersted and Peter Rømer Hansen, Founding Partners at Group NAO 

Signe Jungersted and Peter Rømer Hansen are founding partners in innovation and strategy agency Group NAO. Group NAO works with strategic transformation and innovation within the experience and visitor economy. Recent projects include with Gothenburg, Power of Community series with European Cities Marketing, ‘Tourism Taxes by Design’ and ‘Time for DMOcracy’ as multi-client projects. 

Aileen Crawford, Head of Tourism & Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau  

Aileen is Head of Tourism & Conventions at the award-winning Glasgow Convention Bureau, responsible for the successful positioning of Glasgow as a conference destination for national and international association meetings. In addition, Aileen’s role includes Destination Management, working in partnership with industry, VisitScotland and Glasgow City Council in collaboration to develop and improve the visitor experience. 

About the Panellists 

Abbi Ollive, Head of Marketing and Sales at Castle Howard 
Abbi is a proud Yorkshire marketing and communications devotee and current member of Castle Howard’s Senior Management Team. After a ten year career in Theatre and a shorter stint in Higher Education, Abbi made the move into the Heritage and Visitor Attractions sector and has been Head of Marketing and Sales at Castle Howard for the past four years. 

Andrew Lowson, Executive Director at York BID 
Andrew began his career undertaking commercial master planning and project management within the aviation and rail sectors.  From this he worked in the area of economic development for a government agency before becoming Managing Director of a York based events company, where he helped double turnover and expanded operations into the south of the UK.  Andrew was appointed as Executive Director of the York BID due to his experience of running a small business alongside his understanding of working with multiple stakeholders on economic improvement programmes; not to mention his passion for York. 

Rebecca Hill, Managing Director at Galtres Lodge  

Rebecca Hill is the owner of Galtres Lodge Hotel and its Forest restaurant in York. She is also a marketing and revenue consultant for Hilltop Consulting, board member for York BID and as of early 2021 the newly appointed chair of Indie York. 

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