The English Riviera has won the bid to host the 7th UNESCO International Conference on Global Geoparks in September 2016.
More than 600 delegates from all around the globe are expected to take part in the conference which will be held at the Riviera International Conference Centre in Torquay.
The decision to award this prestigious UNESCO conference to the English Riviera came after months of preparation by the English Riviera Geopark bid committee. The announcement was made at this year’s Global Geoparks Network Conference in Stonehammer Geopark, in Canada, in front of 500 delegates.
Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver, who spearheaded the campaign in order to generate economic and tourism benefits from holding a major international conference in the Bay, said: “This is great news for Torbay. Hosting this prestigious international conference will showcase the English Riviera’s unique geological features on a global stage and bring over 600 delegates to Torbay for a four day itinerary of inspiring activities. We are delighted with the accolade that UNESCO has bestowed upon Torbay by bringing the next international conference here.”
Prof Iain Stewart, patron of the English Riviera Global Geopark and TV broadcaster, said: “It’s fantastic news – testament both to the world-class geology and landscape that we have along the Torbay coast and the exciting and imaginative ways that the Geopark – the world’s first urban Geopark – has woven the 400 million year old rocky history of this region into the everyday lives of modern Devonians.
“The geological jewels of the English Riviera are something that we in the South West should be justifiably proud of. After all, they are the reason why geologists from all over the world will be converging on our shores in two years’ time. It’s going to be a rock party to remember.”
Nick Powe, chairman of the English Riviera Global Geopark organisation said: “The prehistoric caves at Kents Cavern, Berry Head, Hope’s Nose and the coastline of Torbay are all iconic features of the Geopark but equally important is the cultural heritage, the food and traditions that have evolved from this foundation, and we’ll be showing all this off to the delegates.
“We were short-listed with venues around the World and being chosen is a massive achievement for Torbay. It catapults a well-known UK seaside resort into a completely different league, attracting international attention for our amazing natural environment in its vibrant town setting, putting us on the international map as a quality destination for visitors and investors.”
“The GeoCollective were a massive hit with local children and residents and were of particular interest to the delegates as they were able to share the health and well-being benefits of creative engagement which will be a major focus for our conference.”
Cllr Alan Tyerman, Torbay Development Agency board member and chairman of the 2016 Conference Bid Committee said: “The Riviera International Centre, Torquay, is a perfect backdrop to the main keynote speaking events, and we are developing a fantastic programme of activities that will enable delegates to explore the unique features of Torbay’s natural environment that they will remember.”
Nicky Harding, Manager of Conference English Riviera, was also a member of the bid team and said:
“This is great news for the Bay and for the Riviera International Conference Centre. It was exciting to be a part of the whole bid process and of an enthusiastic team all focused and driven towards ensuring this conference came to the English Riviera. I am absolutely delighted for the team, in recognition of our collective hard work, for the RICC and for the Bay as a whole”