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Visit East of England & Partners Visitor Economy Conference Autumn 2022

Visit East of England & Partners hosted its first Visitor Economy Conference at The Hold, Ipswich on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 for 200 delegates from business, destination organisations, local authorities, BIDs and education and transport providers.

Skills, Sustainability, Placemaking and Collaborative Working were the themes of the day with workshops in the morning and presentations in the afternoon.

As we write in the Destination Development Plan: ‘Tourism can only thrive with successful destinations. The region’s tourism sector is in every local authority and happens every single day. It is place-based.’

(Left to right) Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor, British Tourist Authority chairman Nick de Bois, Visit East of England chairman Andy Wood with the new Destination Development Plan, and Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks.

It is imperative, said Visit East of England Executive Director Pete Waters in his welcome, that we continue to work together. VisitBritain and VisitEngland, instead of hearing ‘white noise’ from the region as they suggested before, now hear a single, collective voice.

Speaker and presenter biographies


VEE Visitor Economy Conference 2022


The workshops were supported by VENI and the European Social Fund.

Workshop 1

‘Training and developing people to be the best they can be’ with Sophie Jeffrey, Group Training and Development Manager, and David Scott, CEO, Hotel Folk.

Hotel Folk presentation

‘Introduction To Experiential Tourism’ with Chris Brant, Founder & Experiential Tourism Expert at Unmissable England.

‘Develop your businesses – A whole energy approach’ with Stephen Ramm, Energy Consultant, Conserve Energy.

Stephen Ramm presentation

Workshop 2

‘Being Human: Why We Need to Stop Just Moving the Deckchairs’ with Joe Mills, People, Relationship & Culture Transformer, Managing Director of The Tree Academy.

Joe Mills presentation

‘A Skills Academy for the Visitor Economy’ with Andrew Wheeler, Chairman of the VEE Visitor Economy Skills Group and Executive Director Curriculum Initiatives, West Suffolk College.

Andrew Wheeler presentation

‘The commercial imperative for sustainability and ethical business practice’ with Richard Carter, Lecturer in Finance and Sustainability, West Suffolk College.

Richard Carter presentation

Skills and Sustainability film by Misha Panovs, ex-student of West Suffolk College and now employed at PLACE21.


The students from Chefs’ Whites at Suffolk New College created a buffet lunch using local produce from suppliers including Anglia Produce, Cleveleys and Bidfood. Wine was supplied by Wines of Interest.


Visit East of England Executive Director Pete Waters introduced Visit East of England & Partners and the new Destination Development Plan.

Read the Destination Development Plan 2022 by Visit East of England & Partners

Visit East of England Chairman Dr Andy Wood OBE talked about the importance of our collaborative working and how it will benefit the visitor economy.

2.30-3pm New British Tourist Authority (VisitBritain/VisitEngland) Chairman Nick de Bois talked about the DMO Review, how the East can engage with national tourism bodies and what more we need to do.

Nick de Bois presentation

3-3.30pm UK Inbound CEO Joss Croft talked about establishing the region as a destination for tour operators and why we should do more to attract overseas visitors because of its export value to GB PLC.

Joss Croft presentation

3.30-4pm Networking

4-4.30pm Bobby Burrage of Norwich agency The Click unveiled the new ‘Naturally’ placemaking concept.

4.30-5pm Christian Fry and Ann Steward of Waypoint Cinema on their work with Tom Hanks’ Playtone production company to develop a new Friendly Invasion cinema/conference centre and film to complement the upcoming Apple TV+ Masters of the Air mini-series.

Playtone producer Kirk Saduski gave an overview from California about Masters of the Air and The Friendly Invasion.

Speaker and presenter biographies