HC Deb 05 January 2004 vol 416 c14
10. Hugh Bayley (City of York)(Lab)

What plans she has to support the business tourism and conference trade in Yorkshire. [145836]

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn)

VisitBritain promotes business tourism to Britain as a whole, working closely with the Business Tourism Partnership and a range of other partners, including the Yorkshire tourist board and city destinations such as York, Sheffield—my own town—and Leeds: for example, in relation to international conferences. It is interesting that those three cities have formed the White Rose university research group, partly to exploit the area of business tourism.

Hugh Bayley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that last year York had its best ever year for business tourism, with a 20 per cent. increase in bookings? That reflects the investment in new conference facilities that has been made by York racecourse, the university, hotels and the National Railway Museum, which won Business Britain's award for unique conferencing venue of the year for 2003–04. When will Yorkshire Forward complete its review of business tourism, and what will it do to promote further investment in business tourism in my constituency and elsewhere in the region?

Mr. Caborn

As I understand it, Yorkshire Forward has completed that consultation and will report back in the next few months. There will be further discussions on implementation. I welcome the fact that the regional development agencies are putting their new remit, tourism, right at the heart of the regional economic agenda. That is another example of added economic value, bringing together universities, local authorities and the development agency. That is to be welcomed.