WILTSHIRE and Swindon was showcased to the country last weekend as Visit Wiltshire hosted the largest trade travel conference to scour the region.

The Annual Showcase Exhibition and AGM weekend saw more than 200 delegates from the UK’s most influential travel organisers tour the county to see the best that tourism had to offer.

Stationed at the Hilton Hotel, travel tours set out to visit 20 hand-picked locations, including the Steam Museum, MacArthur Glen Designer Outlet and Lydiard Park. Fiona Errington, marketing manager for Visit Wiltshire, said the event had

been a great success, and hoped it would lead to some changing attitudes about the county.

“We have had some of our best local attractions on show, including Salisbury Cathedral and Lydiard Park,” she said “There is a whole host of 20 local attractions we wanted to highlight, so it has been a crammed weekend for the delegates.

“On Friday night we had a welcome dinner at the Steam Museum, which was exceptionally well received. “Then on Saturday we had an exhibition throughout the morning, before we had five trips going out all around Wiltshire, taking the groups out to as much as we could.

“They headed out to all the villages, including Malmesbury, Chippenham and Corsham, and we have had a picture of a market town by taking in Devizes before coming back to the MacArthur Glen Outlet Centre in Swindon. “It all finishes off with a gala dinner at the hotel with some great local entertainment.”

Fiona said some places may not have made the cut because of the area’s wealth of attractions. “If we haven’t included certain places we have been talking about them to the delegates on the bus routes,” she said. “We will be describing the best locations around the whole of Wiltshire, but there is so much for them to take in. We are always up against other destinations but what we have to offer has really won them over.

“We want to make Wiltshire the place to stop, not just to drive through. It is something we are always aiming to improve on, and the work will continue. “Wiltshire is a bit of an unknown county, and people do not often aim to come here, but we want to put the word out that it is a fantastic place for people to come and stay.

“The reaction has been very positive. Everyone is talking in amazement about the reception they have had, and they are all very excited about all the places they have been to see. “We have been lucky that the sun has just come about as we all set off. “There is a whole host of things in Swindon we wanted to show off, particularly Lydiard Park and the Steam Museum.”