ANSWER: I was born in Brixham and attended Churston Ferrers Grammar School. My working career started as an air stewardess with British Island Airways and subsequently Air UK, and quickly moved upwards to senior stewardess. It was the most invaluable experience and one which I will always have the fondest memories of. Since first joining the RICC I have run an in-house exhibition team, worked in event sales under Gardner Merchant before taking up the role of Conference English Riviera Manager.
QUESTION: How did you get the 7th International Conference on Global Geoparks (GGN2016)?
ANSWER: Nick Powe, chairman of the English Riviera Global Geopark organisation, first contacted me in May 2013 and I was subsequently invited on to the Bid Team Working Group, responsible for putting together the conference bid. My role was to represent the conference venue and delegates' accommodation. The bid was managed by the Torbay Development Agency and Torbay Council.
The team met regularly to discuss the assorted elements of the conference. We were fortunate that Nick and Mel (Melanie Border) had copies of previous bids which gave us a template to work with and in turn gave us a better understanding of what would be required of us as a resort, to generate a conference as complex as this one. Our Bid was up against strong competition from China and another European Destinations.
QUESTION: How will it benefit South Devon?
ANSWER: The GGN2016 will attract a worldwide audience to Torbay and South Devon. It is an opportunity for the area to be showcased as not only a conference destination but also as a top tourist resort. It is widely acknowledged that delegates return to conference destinations for holidays, bringing with them their families and telling others about their experience. The conference offers a massive opportunity to build on our business market and further develop tourism to the region as a whole.
QUESTION: What challenges are you facing?
ANSWER: Attracting conferences will always be a challenge we live in a wonderful location but it is still perceived as a long way from anywhere. Many people I speak to remember their journey on the old A303 when they were going on their holidays as kids! However, it is very exciting to be able to inform prospective clients of the recent new link road improvements. There is obviously increased competition with new venues popping up all over the country with many of them closer to International airports which makes them very accessible.
Getting an organiser to visit the Bay is my biggest challenge however when they do get here they are bowled over by the area and its natural beauty.
Our immediate challenge with GGN2016 fast approaching, will be maximising on this opportunity as Torbay is put under an international spotlight, especially now that we have also officially been awarded UNESCO status. The anticipated media coverage will raise the profile of Torbay as a serious business destination and should ultimately result in more interest from International Associations, who perhaps had not considered Torbay in the past.
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