Whopping £27.6 million boost as Harrogate Convention Centre enjoys strong post-Covid recovery

The success of the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival last week marks one year of business recovery at Harrogate Convention Centre since it reopened after being mothballed during the Covid pandemic.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 11:16 am
Updated Thursday, 28th July 2022, 11:25 am

Harrogate's biggest venue and conference facility, Harrogate Convention Centre was redeployed as a 500-bed Nightingale Hospital from March 2020 to June 2021 and had to close off entirely as an event venue for 15 months.

But the last year has seen it bounce back in style. In the 12 months since July 2021, events at HCC has attracted 267,000 visits, bringing a combined economic impact of £27.6 million to the Harrogate town and district, well on track back to the pre-pandemic level.

Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “I am extremely proud of the venue's recovery from the Covid pandemic.

Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “We were glad to support NHS and the response to Covid but I am extremely proud of our recovery from the pandemic.

"Thanks to the hard work of everyone here and at Harrogate’s Destination Management Organisation, we are once again bringing footfall to Harrogate and supporting the economic recovery of the town and district by attracting large-scale events such as the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival.

"What's more I am delight to announce Home & Gify Buyers will be returning to Harrogate until 2024.

"I am confident we will continue to drive the visitor economy of the Harrogate district.”

Harrogate Convention Centre was redeployed as a 500-bed Nightingale Hospital from March 2020 to June 2021 and had to close off entirely as an event venue for 15 months.

In the 12 months since July 2021, events at HCC had attracted 267,000 visits, bringing a combined economic impact of £27.6 million* to the Harrogate town and district and well on track back to the pre-pandemic level. (*According to Visit Britain’s formula)

The results echo the latest STEAM figures on Harrogate district’s visitor economy recently released by Destination Harrogate.

Despite continuing challenges in the aftermath of Covid, Harrogate district attracted 4.08 million visitors in 2021 with an economic impact of £457 million, a promising increase from 2.81 million visitors valued at £279 million in 2020, and on the right path back to the pre-Covid level.

Trade exhibitions have seen a particularly strong recovery, increasing from nine shows in 2019-2020 to 10 in the past 12 months, including the Home & Gift Buyers Festival.

The event is among a long list of exhibitions which have now signed long-term contracts with HCC over the past year, including the British Craft Trade Fair, British Craft and Design Fair, Country Living Fair, the Flooring Show, Knitting and Stitching Show, International Nursery Fair, Harrogate Fashion Week and Bridal Week Harrogate.

All of them promise to bring significant footfall to the district’s hospitality businesses.

John McGivern, destination events manager of Destination Harrogate, said, “It is encouraging to see such a strong recovery for the Harrogate district following the pandemic which has been bolstered by the return of a programme of leisure, business and trade events.

"Events are a great way to bring people into the area and we are lucky to have an asset such as the Harrogate Convention Centre in the heart of Harrogate."

David Westbrooke, show manager of Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival, said: “We were delighted to return to Harrogate once again for Home & Gift – it’s always a pleasure being here, in a setting like no other.

"The 2022 edition was an amazing success, seeing footfall rise by 8% on last year with 31 countries represented, bringing thousands of businesses together over the course of four days.

"This is thanks in no small part to the amazing hospitality we find here, which helps to make our event truly unique."