The international travel trade descended on Brighton for two days, spending an estimated £1 million as buyers and suppliers found out what the area has to offer.
Many arrived on Wednesday 1 March for the two-day Explore GB event on Thursday and yesterday (Friday 3 March). Explore GB is the flagship annual showcase of British tourism organised by Visit Britain, the national tourist board.
The event – hosted by the Brighton Centre – is now in its third year with more than 400 international buyers from 40 countries aiming to do business with 430 travel industry suppliers.
The suppliers came from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Various destinations and individual venues were represented along with local attractions such as the British Airways i360 taking part in the main event as well as hosting delegations.
Teams from Brighton and Hove City Council’s marketing and conference arm Visit Brighton worked together to secure the event for the Brighton Centre.
They saw off stiff competition from other British destinations where civic leaders were also keen to host the valuable event.
It said that buyers came from Britain’s largest and most valuable inbound visitor markets including America, Germany, France, Canada and Australia.
The council added: “Important growth markets including China, the world’s most valuable outbound market, India, Italy and the Gulf countries are also represented.
“The two-day programme includes one-to-one appointments, seminars and workshops hosted by industry experts in the Brighton Centre and a gala dinner at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel.
“Delegates will also take part in three to five-day familiarisation trips at a range of UK destinations, including Brighton where groups will visit a number of Visit Brighton partner restaurants and attractions including Terre a Terre, Riddle and Finns, Silo, the Royal Pavilion and the British Airways i360.”
Councillor Alan Robins, who chairs the council’s Economic Development and Culture Committee, said: “Explore GB is a prominent event in the tourism business calendar, offering an opportunity for UK businesses to meet and boost trade with a significant number of key markets all under one roof.
“This is a great example of what goes on behind the scenes at the council day in day out to support and promote business in the city.
“In this case, the Visit Brighton teams have worked hard to secure this event, knowing what great benefits it will bring both economically and as an opportunity to showcase our city offer on an international stage.”
Visit Britain chief executive Sally Balcombe said: “With its vibrant arts and music scene, heritage buildings, boutique shopping and the draw of its lively seaside and famous pier, Brighton is a fantastic destination to showcase the diversity of our tourism offer.
“The hundreds of international buyers and journalists attending Explore GB will return home in no doubt as to the outstanding facilities and tourism products on offer across Brighton and beyond.”
Visit Brighton is the official destination marketing organisation for Brighton and Hove and is part of the council.
Visit Brighton runs a partnership scheme supporting more than 500 local businesses. And the marketing and conference teams work to promote Brighton and Hove to a national and international audience to attract leisure and conference visitors and support the local tourism economy.
The two-day event was opened by council leader Warren Morgan. Councillor Morgan said: “I am delighted to welcome all delegates to Explore GB and warmly welcome you to Brighton and Hove.
“The city of Brighton and Hove has always been a key visitor destination with a vibrant tourist economy.
“We have welcomed visitors to our city since 1313 when King Edward the II granted a Town Charter allowing a town market to be held each Thursday.
“But it was in the 18th century when the Prince Regent built the Royal Pavilion that Brighton became a fashionable place to be and be seen.
“Today the abundance of arts and cultural activities, the promise of good shopping, delicious food and drink offering and fun attracts people from near and far to what was once a small fishing village but is now one of the top tourist destinations in the UK.
“Famous for its vibrant cosmopolitan lifestyle, Brighton is an international city which attracts over 10 million visitors each year.
“One of the world’s first seaside resorts, the city is home to globally recognised icons such as the Royal Pavilion, the Brighton Palace Pier, British Airways i360 and the South Downs National Park as well as hosting an established year-round programme of cultural activities such as the Brighton Festival, the Brighton Marathon and Pride.
“The success of our city depends and thrives on tourism, culture and business which contributes nearly a billion pounds each year to our local economy.
“Our current and future conference centres depend on international convention business, our creative digital industry sells to Europe and beyond and our annual festival and year-round cultural programme showcase arts from every corner of our planet.
“As leader of the city council, I recognise the important role we can play in promoting Brighton and Hove as a fantastic visitor destination working in partnership with you all.
“We are bringing in billions of pounds to the city in regeneration projects and delivering key elements of our tourism offer through the management of the Royal Pavilion Estate, our portfolio of museums, visitor information services, conference venues, the seafront, outdoor events, parks, highways, wayfinding signs and public toilets.
“We recognise the importance of marketing ourselves as a destination through our Visit Brighton team, who work in partnership with both our local businesses and Visit Britain to position and promote both Great Britain and Brighton and Hove as a leading tourist destination.
“All of these elements are important to ensure that Brighton and Hove is a city that that welcomes the world and is open for business.
“We are extremely honoured to be hosting this Explore GB 2017 event and welcome the opportunity to showcase our city to an international audience.
“As the leader of the city council, I warmly welcome you to our city and hope that I get the opportunity to meet with many of you in person over the next few days.
“I hope that you have a fantastic Explore GB event and invite you to discover the many great things that Brighton and Hove has to offer during your stay.”