A fire broke out at Harrogate’s Majestic Hotel – part of the Barceló group – on 5 May which saw its top floor badly damaged and one member of staff die.
The town is due to host the annual conferences in June of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Association of Transport Coordinating Officers.
Both the Cipfa and CIH events fill most of the conference and exhibition centre and would have strained the town’s hotel capacity even had the Majestic been open. It was hoped that 89 of the hotel’s 170 rooms would re-open on 24 May but a decision on re-opening has now been postponed until 6 June.
Delegates and exhibitors at large conferences in Harrogate have long been used to staying in Knaresborough, Ripon or Leeds due to the pressure on accommodation.
This involves lengthy taxi journeys as the town is on a branch line between Leeds and York serviced by only one or two trains each hour.
A spokeswoman for the Harrogate International Centre said: “The largest hotels are working together to try to rebook guests who were due to stay at the Majestic, working through their Destination Harrogate group. The 13 leading hotels have rallied together.”
She said it was unclear whether accommodation of similar standard to the Majestic could be offered as an alterative, but said the town had some spare capacity.
Harrogate’s tourist office advertises a total of 1,112 hotel rooms and 309 in bed and breakfast establishments in and around the town. The other major hotels are the Holiday Inn with 214 rooms, the Old Swan with 136 and the Cairn with 135.
Tanya Cohen, exhibitions director at Ocean Media Group, which organises the CIH conference and exhibition, said the event would “face challenges” as it has 300 exhibitors and 5,000 delegates due to attend.
She said: “The fire should cause no more than a slight change of plan. We know that demand for Harrogate’s accommodation is high during these events. We have a very good accommodation agency working hard to find alternatives for each displaced delegate and we have the option of extending our free conference coach service to reach more hotels. Everyone who wants to attend the conference will have somewhere accessible to stay.”
The CIH conference is due to be addressed by the new housing minister, by Robert Chote, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Steve Quartermain, the chief planner.
Cipfa’s speakers include former Swedish prime minister Goran Persson and Sir Nicholas Montagu, former head of the Inland Revenue.To receive our free weekly round-up of all news stories from our site, click here
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