Harrogate’s Home and Gift Buyers’ Festival hailed a success with an economic impact of £750k

A Government pilot event at Harrogate Convention Centre - the first major show following its conversion from a Nightingale Hospital - has been hailed as a success.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 8:58 am

The Home and Gift Buyers’ Festival and the Manchester Furniture Show attracted more than 10,000 visitors to the town, with a projected economic impact of £750,000.

The four-day event (July 18-21) was part of the Government’s events research programme (ERP) pilot. This meant everyone attending had to provide proof that they had either received two vaccinations at least two weeks prior to attending or had taken a negative NHS Lateral Flow Test at least 48 hours before attending.

Paula Lorimer, director at the centre, said: “We’ve been waiting a long time to open venue doors and give people the opportunity to meet, network and do business.

4th August 2020 Pictured Paula Lorimer of the Harrogate Convention Centre. Picture Gerard Binks

“We were particularly delighted that it was the Home and Gift Show as our first major event, as it celebrates 60 years in Harrogate - it’s a real Harrogate success story.

“What’s more, we are proud to have played a leading role in the ERP pilot programme for the event sector. Looking forward, Harrogate Convention Centre has more than £15m of economic impact on its books between now and next March.”

Show director Russell Rule added: “We worked hard to ensure health and safety were paramount. Within that context, it was very welcome to see the appetite and enthusiasm for an in-person buying and selling event.

“This was the first year we brought our sister show, the Manchester Furniture Show, with over 5,000 specialist furniture and interiors buyers at the event. It’s a thrill to be back.”

The festival is the industry’s favourite UK retail trade show, where businesses can source new wholesale products across home and gift, interiors, fashion and stationery. It was the first major event at the conference centre, following its conversion back to regular use, after being a stand-by 500-bed NHS Nightingale Hospital. The centre is now working closely with Harrogate’s new Destination Management Organisation, headed by Gemma Rio, to attract future business events.

She said: “It was fantastic to see the buzz at Harrogate Convention Centre and across the town over the past few days. Covid-19 has influenced the tourism landscape dramatically over the last 18 months.

“Lockdowns and travel restrictions have taken their toll on many towns and cities and devastated the hospitality industry. Events and the visitor economy are critical to the district’s bounce back and growth. These two events, along with other recent events such as The Great Yorkshire Show, which made a triumphant return to Harrogate last week, are significant first steps in the event industries recovery.”

In a letter of support, PM Boris Johnson, pictured, said: “The Convention Centre is a great asset to the local economy, and I am so glad to hear that it is now back and ready to take part in the Events Research Programme pilot.

“The past year has been an immense challenge for the whole country and now, with the aid of events like this, we will all be one step closer to normality.”