Attractions industry news

16 Aug 2023

Sir Nick Varney to headline VAC as conference celebrates 20th anniversary

Sir Nick Varney has been revealed as the headline speaker at this year's VAC.

Taking place on 5 October at the QEII Centre in London, VAC – the UK’s leading conference for visitor attractions – celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023.

Varney – who was instrumental in Merlin Attractions becoming second only to Disney in scale globally – will take the stage during the morning session, where he will be interviewed by Liz Terry MBE, editor of Attractions Management magazine.

In a session titled "The Big Interview" Varney, the former Merlin CEO, will reveal how he led the company to become the UK’s most influential and successful attractions operator.

When he retired in November 2022, Merlin operated more than 140 theme parks and attractions, 23 hotels and five holiday villages employing 27,000 people in 24 countries across four continents. He was knighted in the King’s 2023 birthday honours.

Varney will be one of a host of high-profile speakers and industry professional at the 20th anniversary event. Others include:

• Dr Mark Baker, chair, Gyrych Castle Trust (of “I’m a Celebrity” fame)
• Rob Chatwin, group CEO, The Eden Project
• Bernard Donoghue OBE, CEO, ALVA, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions
• Paul Kelly, Chief Executive, BALPPA, the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions
• Lycia Lobo, commercial director, English Heritage
• Victoria Lynn, MD, Drayton Manor
• Kelly Molson, founder and head of commercial, Rubber Cheese
• Richard Nicholls, head of research and insights, VisitBritain
• Fiona Pollard, chair, VisitEngland Advisory Board
• Laura Pye, director, National Museums Liverpool
• Ken Robinson CBE, founder of VAC
• Richard Toomer, executive director, The Tourism Alliance
• Jon Young, director, BVA BDRC

• For more information on VAC and to book your place at the event using the earlybird discount, visit: https://vacevents.com/.

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