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Shakespeare celebrations "negatively impacting" on conferences and incentives

Stratford-based Warwick Events says high tourist numbers are forcing out one quarter of its business enquiries

Pictured: Stratford-upon-Avon has welcomed high volumes of tourists for celebrations marking 400 years of Shakespeare's legacy

A tourist boom in Stratford-upon-Avon for the Shakespeare 400-year anniversary celebrations is pushing away local conference and incentives business says a destination management company.

Warwick Events says it is being forced to turn away 25 per cent of its business enquiries this year, due to lack of hotel space.

Director Emma Wellstead said the visitor explosion, while positive for many other areas of the local economy, had created a problem for meetings and conferences.

"We're struggling to place business. It's been actually having a negative impact on our business because we just can't get the space. We can't get bedrooms. And the hotels are in a situation where their meeting space is not being used," she said.

"So it's been an interesting year in that respect. We are probably turning about 25 per cent of business away. We could place them somewhere else in the country but then we'd be like any other venue booking agency and that's not what we want to do. Our whole ethos is about celebrating the location you're in. "

Wellstead said increasing hotel stock could help ease the problem. The area has more than 1,000 rooms in four-star hotels in a 10-mile radius.

She said there was no ideal solution to the problem without wanting tourist numbers to decline.

"I think there will be a legacy (from the Shakespeare celebrations), what I'm hoping is that the tourist numbers start to diminish a little bit, so that we can then use the impact that it's had, of growing our exposure internationally, to try and help us pull in business."


However Clearwater Events MD Stephen Morton-Prior disagreed, and said the anniversary had had a "positive impact", with interest in the region greater as a whole. "We have already seen one large event for over 300 guests confirm to the newly refurbished Holiday Inn Stratford and much of this has been down to the national interest and attention on the Stratford region," he said.


"In turn, our inbound groups are planning their programmes to ensure there is a social element incorporating Stratford Upon Avon and also nearby Warwick. We are planning inbound programmes as far away as 2019 now, much down to the interest Stratford Upon Avon has had right now."

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