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The English Riviera lived up to its billing as a top group destination this week. Coach and tour operators and GTOs from all over the country descended on South Devon to take in a special fact-finding and business-generating showcase in Torquay, Paignton and Babbacombe from 7-9 March.

Organised by the English Riviera BID Company [Business Improvement District] in conjunction with UK group travel specialists Steve Reed Tourism Ltd, the event was planned to help highlight the tourism product of the English Riviera partners – hotels, attractions, transport and venues all combined to give the tour planners a highly memorable experience.

The buyers were hosted by several hotels including the Devonshire Hotel, one of the Daish’s Holidays group of eight hotels; by TLH [Torquay Leisure Hotels] and their Toorak Hotel; Richardson Hotels looked after the delegates at their Grand Hotel and at the John Burton-Race Restaurant with Rooms venue; Duchy Hotels likewise came up trumps with guests housed in their Queens, Palace and Headland Hotels.

Transported in style around the resorts by Teignmouth based Majestic Coaches, the group of around 80-90 buyers began their visit to the English Riviera with a superb performance of ‘Starshine’ at the very popular Babbacombe Theatre. Good old fashioned seaside entertainment.

The English Riviera Exhibition coincided with the showcase, so the delegates enjoyed talking business with many BID partners at this annual set-piece. This was an opportunity for the tour operators and GTOS to discuss group bookings. And for the buyers it was full steam ahead at the Dartmouth Steam Railway in Paignton – a wonderful sunny day enhanced the trip for the delegates who were treated to stunning seaside views.

The visit to iconic Kent’s Cavern in Torquay left a firm impression of the tour planners who were glad to see that the all year round attraction could handle up to seven coaches at once. Then it was time for the group, joined by some of the BID partners, to meet the CEO of the English Riviera BID Company, Carolyn Custerson. She addressed the delegates during an enjoyable gala dinner in the TLH Carlton Hotel in Torquay.

The twin attractions of Bygones and the Babbacombe Model Village showed how well they can look after groups when the attendees called in to see and experience their respective group products first hand.

‘We were so pleased to have the support of the BID partners to ensure that the buyers were well received here,’ says Carolyn Custerson CEO of the English Riviera BID Company.

‘Our initial feedback from the guests is very positive indeed – there have already been actual group bookings and many more are in the pipeline. Our businesses looked after the delegates ever so well – whether it was first class accommodation; delicious food; enjoyable entertainment or superb sight-seeing.’

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Anyone wishing to find out more of the English Riviera group travel offering should contact Angela Wright, email angela@englishrivierabid.co.uk or call 01803 296296.


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