Booking a night’s stay at Stay City Apartments was a great decision, I was able to roll right out of bed and across the road to McIntyre House for 7.45 am sharp. Heading up to the second floor it was wonderful to see the welcome desk set up and looking professional, so I took the opportunity to take a few pictures. Once delegates had started to arrive, we gave them a warm welcome to the Symposium and UCB, and most importantly ensured each guest picked up their own individual Wi-Fi passwords. I swear the guys in I.T are like Wi-Fi gods!
All four of us (Sarah, Nicole, Janson and me), felt less nervous and more excited, especially since we were on our own ‘turf’, so to speak. McIntyre House is basically our second home throughout the academic year and we were pretty confident about answering any questions or queries that may be bought to us. Plus, we had our lovely lecturer Paul on hand to help, too.
I absolutely loved that some of the delegates had remembered us from the previous day – they spoke to us like friends and a few even gave us business cards! Once delegates had signed in, we pointed them in the direction of the refreshment area to fill up on breakfast pastries and a much-needed coffee wakeup.
The conference got underway at 9am, so a few of us headed into the lecture theatre ready to be on microphone duty for questions and answers. We took it in turns on mic duty throughout the morning sessions so that at least two of us were outside on the welcome desk for anybody arriving late, or if any of the guests needed assistance.
Just before the first coffee break, I was inside the lecture theatre to hear the Festivals of Britain panel discussion with Martin Green (Hull City of Culture 2017), Julia Amour (Festivals Edinburgh), Alison Clarke (Arts Council England), and Anita Bhalla (Creative City Partnership). The panel was focussed around pinpointing whether festivals enhance the destinations they are located in, and at what scale are they beneficial to the destination.
Although I was aware of Hull’s City of Culture 2017 status prior to the discussion, it was fascinating gaining a first-hand perspective on the positive impact it will have on tourism in East Yorkshire, considering that the city of York currently dominates tourism in Yorkshire as a whole. I’m excited to see how it goes for Hull. Big questions about Birmingham were also raised during the Q&A, with one delegate asking the panel how Birmingham could transmit its increasing tourism appeal. Martin had the perfect answer, explaining that the city “should be bidding to be the culture capital 2023”. I completely agree. I’m proud to live and study in a vibrant city that thrives on it’s cultural diversity. Fantastic infrastructure changes are significantly enhancing the appeal of Birmingham as a tourist destination, and it would be wonderful to see a culture capital title at some point in the future.
One of the most influential key-note speeches for me personally, came from Caroline Norbury MBE and CEO of Creative England. She delivered a captivating insight into how film and television series filmed in England have boosted visitor numbers to attractions in the country. One of the biggest blockbuster franchises in the world – Harry Potter – was filmed in locations throughout Britain, including Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The castle has had a massive 230% increase in visitor numbers since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released back in 2001! Oh by the way, they also offer Broomstick Training if anyone is interested in joining my Quidditch Team?
Caroline ended her scene-on-screen presentation with a video entitled ‘I love filming in the South of England’, created in partnership with The GREAT Britain campaign (a destination marketing campaign showcasing the best of Britain, in order to inspire and encourage more people to visit). The video includes Sir Kenneth Branagh (director of the Disney live action movie Cinderella), and Emma Pill ( Supervising Location Manager), explaining why they loved filming in the South of England. Sir Kenneth brilliantly states in terms of location wise “I think the UK competes wonderfully well with Hollywood right now”….
Video source: Creative England YouTube
Overall, Caroline’s inspiring keynote speech emphasised the need for destination managers in the UK to capitalize on screen tourism, and use it to their advantage to charm tourists into visiting specific locations.
In the space of six hours, over twenty speakers took to addressing the audience with a diverse and creative range of topics about what is essentially driving tourism today, including wellness tourism, volunteering holiday, festivals, and the new era of business travel. I was particularly interested in understanding more about the changing markets in the countries of Namibia and Saudi Arabia.
In two years at UCB, my eyes have been opened up to how immeasurable tourism actually is, and being part of the Tourism Symposium only highlighted this further. This is what I love about studying tourism, things are changing all the time, it’s a learning experience for people who have been in the industry for 40+ years, as well as students.
I haven’t touched upon everything from the conference, if I had you’d probably be reading until tomorrow night. But to sum everything up, I loved the two days we had with the Tourism Society. We were treated as delegates and had a sense of belonging. The four of us mentioned a few times that, in a few years’ it will be us in the same position. Catching up with friends in the industry, creating new contacts and partnerships, and possibly one day giving our own key-note speeches at a future Symposium!
It was an invaluable and amazing opportunity to be part of it, a huge thanks and high five goes out to our lecturer Paul for encouraging us be involved!
I’m off to find more recruits for my Quidditch team, you sure you don’t want to join?