Harrogate Convention Centre has seen growth in new business despite an “extremely challenging year” for the event industry.
The Convention Centre’s annual report to Harrogate Borough Council outlines new business gains as well as plans to ramp up efforts to regain lost business and encourage more repeat business.
Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Richard Cooper, said: “The importance of the Convention Centre to the town’s economy is hard to overstate.
“The hundreds of thousands of visitors who come every year spend around £60million in local businesses."
The positive report follows claims earlier in the month by Coun Victoria Oldham, the Conservative representative for Washburn ward, that the venue's continual financial performance was a “major concern” and had contoibuted to Harrogate Borough Council's projected £373k overspend on general funds overall.
Despite the positive nature of the Convention Centre’s annual report , this crucial part of the Harrogate economy does not intend to rest on its laurels.
The business expects to invest £1.45million on its facilities over the next 12 months, following a recent £900,000 investment including upgrades to the Royal Hall.
Simon Kent, director of the venue, said: “The report shows that we’re up against some tough prevailing conditions but I believe that a strong Convention Centre means a strong local economy and vice versa.
"When delegates were asked in a recent Visit Britain business events survey. if they would come back to Harrogate 96 percent said they would, with 88 per cent of delegates saying they would choose to return as leisure visitors. That puts us top in the UK and 11 percent ahead of our nearest competitor.”
“Our credentials as a location are better than any other event destination in the UK."
Harrogate Borough Council's report also outlines Harroghate Convention Centre’s plans to increase the number of live entertainment shows in its 2000-seat auditorium by targeting event promoters and agents, over the coming three years.
The next stage of plans for a major redevelopment of the Harrogate Convention Centre is expected to be completed by March.
The aim is to analyse how an optimum development solution could be delivered, minimising any impact on the business during construction work, by completing work incrementally in self-contained phases.
Brian Dobson, head of sales at Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “The current financial year brought extremely challenging market conditions and I’m delighted that we were able to bring new events to Harrogate during the year.
“Some of our clients take their events around a number of venues which means repeat business tends to be cyclical.
"We are working hard to ensure future commitments from customers and establishing more of their future-spend at Harrogate Convention Centre.”
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