NHS Nightingale blow for Harrogate economy as hospital will stay in place until 2021
The news that the Nightingale is required until March 2021 in case there is a new spike in coronavirous cases in the coming months undermines the chances of the town's vital conference, live entertainment and visitor economy reviving strongly in the next nine months as the temporary hospital's location effects both Harrogate Convention Centre and the Royal Hall.
Major business leaders today tried to stay positive about Harrogate's prospects but did not attempt to hide the scale of the setback.
Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID) acting chair Sara Ferguson said: “This is a blow for Harrogate’s conference and exhibition trade. We need to do all we can to ensure those events due to take place whilst the Convention Centre, Royal Hall and exhibition halls are offered alternative accommodation within the town, be it within hotels or at the Great Yorkshire Showground.
“Harrogate BID will help in whatever way it can, which could include sponsoring shuttle buses between the town centre and the Show Ground. We are also looking at a series of events that we can stage as a way of bringing people into town on a regular basis.”
Sandra Doherty, chief executive of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, said: “While Harrogate has never completely relied on the conference and exhibition trade, it has been the business which underpins the leisure trade.
“There are very few towns and cities that are not coastal and which can rely on tourism totally. Perhaps York is the only one which comes to mind. The leisure tourists are perhaps the jam filling in the cake, whereas in Harrogate the business visitors are actually the icing.
“There is the choice and number of bed spaces in Harrogate solely due to the Convention Centre trade, and without it we may well see a decline in investment and perhaps the loss of some of these businesses.
“Again, the number of places to eat and drink also relies on the influx of large numbers of visitors and delegates during conferences and exhibitions. What will happen to these is anybody’s guess as they continue to suffer from the impact of Covid restrictions.
“Harrogate is a town which enjoys popularity and status. I really hope this will help us through what could well be a hard winter for many.”
Andy Barnsdale, DoubleTree by Hilton Harrogate Majestic Hotel and Spa General Manager, said: “Of course the loss of the Convention Centre for the foreseeable future is a disappointment, and it is crucial that we don’t lose any events to other towns and cities.
“Harrogate is one of the most popular destinations for conferences, trade shows and events in the UK. Delegates and organisers love coming to Harrogate and we need to let them know the town is very much open for businesses.
“We are fortunate in having a good number of large town centre hotels, all with sizeable conference and exhibition spaces, that can accommodate any number of conferences, meetings and exhibitions.
“At the DoubleTree by Hilton Harrogate Majestic Hotel and Spa, we are also in the gifted position of having extensive grounds that often house marquees for major events, including the annual Home & Gift Fair which should have taken place this week.”
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