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Sir Andrew Parmley

As the opening date for the Blackpool’s new conference and exhibition centre draws closer, the resort has recruited former Lord Mayor of London Sir Andrew Parmley to lead a business tourism advocacy and ambassador programme. In addition to promoting the central £28m facility, which is set to officially open next year as part of the existing Winter Gardens complex, the initiative will also look to raise awareness of the £500m of recent investments which are transforming the resort.

These include several new hotels, a tramway extension, public transport interchange and newly electrified rail connections. Other regeneration projects include major improvements to roads, bridges and traffic management schemes, and the development of new cultural, retail and leisure zones across the town.

Sir Andrew Parmley, a former Lord Mayor of the City of London and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, has been brought in to spearhead the initiative.

He is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Apprenticeship Delivery Board and sits on the boards of several high-profile national charities and world-renowned orchestras and choirs.

Sir Andrew, who grew up on the Fylde coast and attended Blackpool Grammar School, said: “When I was growing up Blackpool was the destination of choice for conferences of every type – industrial, commercial and political. And even though the town has been through many major changes since then, including some very tough times in recent years, I have always remined a passionate advocate for the resort.

“The recent swathe of new investments and improvements to Blackpool’s infrastructure, including the new Conference & Exhibition Centre, are now set to create a business tourism destination which will be unique in the UK. It will offer the best of the British seaside and northern friendliness together with high-grade hotel accommodation, efficient transport links and brand new conferencing facilities.

He added: “This is the message I will be spreading through my work in London and across the world, and I am proud that Blackpool has asked me to help drive this new advocacy programme.”

Mandy Tythe-McCallum, business tourism manager for Visit Blackpool, said: “We couldn’t wish for a more respected and well-connected individual to help us spread the word about Blackpool’s reinvigorated business tourism offer based on his first-hand knowledge of what’s actually happening.

“However, we are also looking to ensure partners across Lancashire, including our world-class universities, our large employers, and other influential organisations, are all fully briefed on the new conference and exhibition centre.

“For example, Lancashire is a global leader in areas like aerospace, energy and advanced manufacturing, while our emerging strengths include digital health and life sciences. These are some of the areas we will be pursuing as part of our business tourism advocacy and ambassadorial programme with a view to recruiting champions dedicated to these vertical markets who can help influence key decision makers within the conference and exhibition sector.”

With the addition of the new Conference and Exhibition Centre, which has been funded through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal, the Winter Gardens will become a hub of 12 distinct venues offering a total of 4.9 acres of connected conference, meeting, event and exhibition space.