As City of Culture 2017 celebrations get underway in Hull, H&E North spoke to Liz Neal, Business Tourism Officer for Visit Hull & East Yorkshire, about her career and an exciting year ahead for the region.
ABOUT THE BID
In 2013, Hull was named as the UK City of Culture. The award is given every four years to a city that demonstrates the belief in the transformational power of culture, and 2017 is the year that Hull takes its place as this city. A year-long arts and cultural programme will celebrate the unique character of the city, its people, history and geography.
What is your professional background?
I started with Library Services based in East Yorkshire and also worked within the Tourist Information Centre in Hull. I then moved in to the conference and meetings industry, when I took a role with the Hull Conference Bureau, which later became Hull & East Yorkshire Conferences. I really enjoyed working with venues, attractions and helping people organise successful events. I’m very proud of where I come from so having the opportunity to tell people about all the great things in Hull and East Yorkshire is what I really love about my job.
What is a typical working day for you?
I’m lucky as each day is quite varied, dealing with enquiries from people wanting to hold a broad range of conferences in the area, meeting with conference organisers to discuss their individual events, what Visit Hull & East Yorkshire has to offer, helping them arrange accommodation and organising social programmes to ensure delegates get a fun flavour of Hull. And finally, as I’m sure everyone does – wading through lots of emails!
What makes the region stand out for visitors and for you?
Hull and East Yorkshire has a selection of traditional, contemporary and unusual venues. I think we are probably one of the few areas in the country that can offer coast, countryside and city experiences all within a short drive of each other. Plus the people here are really friendly and visitors are always given a warm welcome.
For me personally, there is nothing better than blowing the cobwebs away with a walk along the beautiful East Yorkshire coast, but I’m equally happy exploring one of the free museums in Hull or enjoying a glass of cider in one of the traditional pubs in the old town.
When I have friends or family visiting, I always take them to The Deep. It doesn’t matter how many times I go, it’s still fascinating.
What events are lined up this year?
I’m looking forward to seeing Spencer Tunick’s Sea of Hull exhibition at the Ferens Art Gallery. I also think it’s really exciting that the area is hosting both BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend and the Turner Prize, two very different events. I’m also looking forward to the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards (REYTAs) which is Visit Hull & East Yorkshire’s annual tourism awards. This year we are hosting the event at the Bridlington Spa for around 500 guests and although it takes a lot of organising, it is a great evening of celebration for the local tourism industry.
What will the city of culture be able to offer in 2017 and beyond?
Well 2017 is going to be action-packed with something cultural happening every day of the year. Already we have seen an amazing firework display, the opening of a brand new contemporary art gallery – the Humber Street Gallery – and the displaying of a 75m-long wind turbine blade in the centre of Hull, which certainly has the wow factor when you see it up close! So visiting for business or leisure, there will be something to enjoy.
Also on the conferencing front, we have two new venues opening – a DoubleTree by Hilton that will have 168 bedrooms and space to seat a 1,000 delegates, plus The Venue, which will be a 3,500-seat state-of-the-art music, event and conference centre. So I think this is really exciting time for Hull & East Yorkshire with lots to look forward to.