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On the eve of the second national lockdown, which deals a further blow to the region’s visitor economy, the Visit County Durham autumn online conference looked ahead to the tourism of the future, to provide businesses with the guidance and support needed for recovery.
Tourism businesses from across the county and region took part in the virtual event on Wednesday, 4 November, hearing from Foresight Factory, the research agency commissioned by VisitBritain, on future tourism trends, and UK Hospitality, the leading hospitality trade association representing the interests and lobbying on behalf of the UK's hospitality sector.
Michelle Gorman, managing director of Visit County Durham, also addressed delegates to provide details on upcoming developments which will assist in the bounce back of County Durham’s visitor economy.
Ivor Stolliday, chairman of Visit County Durham, said: “Despite the sector facing another devastating lockdown, it is vital that we look ahead and plan for recovery. The county’s visitor economy has proved time and time again that it is resilient, and by understanding what tourism of the future will look like, the conference will give businesses the tools they need to adapt, reset and recover.”
Key points from the conference included the need to balance the pent-up demand for travel with consumer tensions around health, and how building confidence will be key. Consumer interests will also have changed, with getting back to nature already showing a huge growth in popularity, with bike usage alone seeing a 150% increase in July 2020. Consumers are also becoming more interested in authentic local experiences, seeing them as a way to support local businesses and continue to boost the sense of community which prevailed during the first lockdown.
Ross Grieve, managing director of Seaham Hall, added: “Although there has never been a more challenging time to operate a visitor economy business, we know that demand will be there when people are able to travel once again. Ensuring we understand what the consumer wants will help us plan, prepare and prosper once again, and the Visit County Durham virtual conference provided information and insights to help us do just that.”
The conference is part of a programme of measures put in place by the destination management organisation to support the sector.
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