Plymouth to host 40th Birthday Celebrations of National Tourism Champion

30th January 2017

Tourism leaders from around the country will be arriving in Plymouth on 7th February for a milestone birthday party.

Members of one of the UK’s leading tourism trade associations, Ukinbound, have picked the city to host their 40th birthday celebrations, as well as their annual convention.

More than 250 UKinbound members will be arriving in Britain’s Ocean City for the prestigious two-day event, which includes networking opportunities, a host of fascinating key note speakers and a black-tie gala dinner.

The delegates to the UKinbound Convention will include tour operators, hoteliers, attraction owners, retailers and restauranteurs.

Top flight speakers include Graham Pickett, Deloitte Global Leader for Aviation and Travel and founder Deirdre Bounds.  As well as celebrations to mark the organisation’s 40th anniversary there will be the annual Awards for Excellence – rewarding some of the UK’s finest tourism destinations, plans and projects.

The convention, at the Holiday Inn from Wednesday, February 8 until Friday 10, is seen by many in the industry as the main event to mix, mingle and get things done for the entire British tourism industry.

And, with so much going on in Plymouth – including a £34 million major re-development of the city’s museums and galleries, a £40 million major retail development and the forthcoming Mayflower 400 celebrations – it was the natural choice to host the event.

UKinbound is the only trade association focusing on the interests of the country’s inbound tourism sector and with Plymouth attracting more than 5.2 million visitors annually, the city is one of the jewels in the crown for tourism nationally.

Amanda Lumley, Chief Executive of Destination Plymouth said: “Destination Plymouth is delighted that UKinbound will be hosting its 40th Anniversary Convention in Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City. We believe that this is a great opportunity for us to showcase the very best that the city has to offer, as well as demonstrating the natural beauty, heritage and wealth of visitor attractions in the wider Devon and Cornwall region.

“With plans now well underway to ensure that Plymouth maximises the opportunity that Mayflower 400 presents we are improving our tourism offer for the international tour operators that will be attending this prestigious event for UK inbound tourism.

“We are very grateful for the support of our partners Plymouth City Council, Conference Plymouth, Holiday Inn, Copthorne Hotel, and our travel partner Plymouth Citybus in supporting us to deliver this convention and would also like to thank the multitude of businesses in and around the City who have supported this event to make sure that we ‘push the boat out’ in style.”

Cllr Ian Bowyer, Leader of Plymouth City Council said: “We are thrilled to have such a prestigious event in Plymouth.  This is a great opportunity for us to showcase the very best that the city has to offer and all of the exciting developments we have to look forward to in the lead up to Mayflower 2020.”

“Delegates attending the convention will hear of the exciting developments in the city including Plymouth’s £34m History Centre development, which is now underway; the creation of a new, high quality waterfront hotel for Plymouth situated at the former Quality Inn site on the Hoe and the plans for a Mayflower trail.”

The UK’s inbound tourism sector contributed £22bn to the UK economy in 2015 – a staggering nine per cent of GDP and on a par with the country’s automotive and pharmaceutical industries.

UKinbound not only lobbies the Government on behalf of its hundreds of members on key issues like airport capacity, visas and taxation but also raises the profile and value of tourism to the UK.

And it’s being seen as a platform to launch Mayflower 400 to the travel trade nationally, as well as a chance to encourage inward investment and further development.

Find out more at

Autumn statement delivers fair wind for Mayflower 400 UK

The Mayflower 400 leadership team in Plymouth were thrilled to hear that the commemoration has been formally recognised by government as part of the Chancellor’s autumn statement yesterday.

Adrian Vinken, OBE, Chairman of Mayflower 400 said: “It’s great news that even five years out from 2020, central Government recognises the international importance of Mayflower 400 and is giving it strong early backing from Whitehall.

“It’s a clear demonstration of confidence in Plymouth’s leadership of this important national project. The whole Mayflower 400 leadership team is absolutely delighted with this endorsement.”

Mayflower 400 will be a significant international commemoration in 2020 and the Leadership Team are working closely with their national compact partners to develop arts and cultural commemorations, educational activities, business connections and opportunities for visitors to come to the UK to trace their ancestry.

Plans across the partnership include an international and national art trail, education packs resources and exchanges, development of a national heritage trail and work on a replica Mayflower led by Harwich.

Plymouth UK have had an amazing year so far with visits to see the US colleagues in Plymouth Massachusetts and Washington in March, a visit from the US Ambassador Matthew Barzun in September as well as visits from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants Governor General Lea Sinclair Filson , Plymouth 400 Executive Director Michele Pecoraro and Massachusetts cultural director Anita Walker. The programme is really starting to gain momentum. The partnership has great enthusiasm and we are connected by a common goal as were the original Pilgrims in 1620.

2020 will be a landmark year. It marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, arguably the most influential single voyage in the history of the world. The ship quite literally carried with it the seed of the American nation. As Winston Churchill said: “habeas corpus, magna carta, the bill of rights, trial by jury and English common law find their most famous expression in the American declaration of Independence.”

The spirit of that voyage and the beliefs that motivated it led to the creation of the most powerful nation on earth. Mayflower 400 is a key milestone for those communities and partner nations who have a significant part to play in this global narrative.

Chairman Adrian Vinken, OBE introduces the Mayflower Newsletter

The past six months have seen Mayflower 400 step up a gear with momentum starting to gather towards 2020’s ambitious programme of local, national and international activities.

July saw the formal launch of the Mayflower Compact, a partnership of thirteen English, Dutch and American locations pledged to work together in commemoration and celebration of the world changing voyage of 1620. The launch fittingly took place in Gainsborough Old Hall where the original Pilgrims worshipped in secret more than 400 years ago. Amongst others in attendance were nine Lord Mayors, Mayors and City Council Leaders plus, from Massachusetts, Wrestling Brewster a tenth generation descendant of one of the Pilgrims’ early leaders.

We received funding from the DCMS towards the reopening of the Mayflower Visitor Centre in Plymouth and have been invited to co-ordinate a major national funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund on behalf of all Compact partners. Positive early discussions have also taken place with the Arts Council, UKTI, the Coastal Communities Fund, Visit Britain and Visit England.

A particular highlight was September’s visit to Plymouth by US Ambassador Matthew Barzun. Whilst in the city he formally reopened the Mayflower Visitor Centre and enthusiastically endorsed the Mayflower 400 vision noting its particular significance to the Special Relationship between the US and the UK. The Ambassador kindly offered to host a reception for the Mayflower 400 Compact next September with the intention that this be repeated annually by the Embassy up to 2020.

The Ambassador’s visit coincided with a number of influential visitors from the US also working hard to ensure that Mayflower 400 achieves the international impact that befits its historic significance. Among them was Lea Filson the Governor General of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants that represents over 16 million Americans living today who proudly trace their genealogy back to those few original Mayflower families. The President of the Massachusetts Cultural Commission Anita Walker also came to progress discussions begun earlier this year in Boston about potential transatlantic arts festivals and projects in the lead up to and during 2020. Finally Michelle Pecoraro, the Executive Director of our Massachusetts sister company Plymouth 400, spent a week in the city helping to deepen the already strong community partnership between the two Plymouths separated by the Atlantic but linked forever by the Mayflower story.

As you will see in this newsletter, Mayflower 400 has got off to a very promising start.


  • the continued goodwill of our active partners in the US,
  • the enthusiasm and commitment of all thirteen communities linked by the Mayflower Compact,
  • the generosity of potential funding bodies and sponsors and
  • the strategic support of government departments in Boston, Leiden, London and Washington

We can all look forward to an international programme of activities in 2020 that does justice to the vision and fortitude of those 102 brave pilgrims in 1620 and their powerful legacy of freedom and democracy embedded around the world today.

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Thanksgiving Poem

This poem is our annual gift from the children and young people of the City of Plymouth, England to the children and young people of Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA. The gift reminds us of the first Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims, of their resilience and fellowship and also reminds us of our bond of fellowship across the waves as young citizens of Plymouth . The poem is written by Plymouth, England, Young City Laureate, Jessica Holloway. Jess is commissioned by Plymouth, England, to write significant pieces for civic occasions and special events. This is Jess’s first commission since being appointed Laureate in October, as the winner of our annual Young City Laureate competition.


The cornucopia is spread
across a thousand cloths,
where the bulbs of life sprout
from those mudded tables,
embellished, fringed,
like human hair
falling towards Earth.
And the people
grow around the food –
roots tangling, thriving.
Each, an extension,
a limb, branching
towards the offerings
of the fruit.
Oh, the temptation
to balance just a few
trimmings on the tongue.
Is that so wrong?
But the slivers
of turkey are
honeyed by Eden.
And their eyes feast.
Clasped hands.
Words that make
no sounds.
Their gentle thanks
heard forevermore –
resonating throughout
the newborn
holy lands.

– Jessica Holloway

Plymouth Illuminate celebration to inspire unity with Pilgrim descendents


“As one small candle may light a thousand,
so the light here kindled has shown unto many”

Governor William Bradford ~ Of Plimoth Plantation

Plymouth will host an Illuminate and Thanksgiving event on Thursday 26 November. The event organised by Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Mayflower 400 Leadership Group and Plymouth Waterfront Partnership commemorates the Pilgrims voyage to the New World.

This event continues the official countdown to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing in 2020. The aim of the event is to share the light and inspire a sense of unity between Plymouth and America.

The Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth on the Mayflower on the 16 September 1620, and arrived 66 days later in Cape Cod on the US East Coast on 21 November 1620 before finally landing in the colony of Plimoth in the state of Massachusetts on 21 December 1620. It is estimated that over 16 million Americans today are directly descended from those on the ship.

The ceremony will begin at 4.45pm at the Mayflower Steps with a choir performance from Montpelier Primary School followed by speeches from special guests including The Lord Mayor of Plymouth Councillor Dr John Mahony, Chair of Plymouth Waterfront Partnership Chris Arscott, Plymouth historian Chris Robinson and Dom Jinks Executive Director of Plymouth’s Culture Board.

Chris Arscott, Chair of Plymouth Waterfront Partnership said: “Plymouth is Britain’s Ocean City with strong ties across the globe built on an extensive maritime history. The Barbican’s Mayflower Steps commemorative arch, close to from where the ship set sail, is a perfect setting to host this important ceremony.”

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans will be switching on the new lights for the Mayflower Steps during the event as part of the Council’s initiative to light up iconic Plymouth landmarks. The lighting infrastructure has been funded by the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership.

Councillor Evans said: “This is a significant part of our history and this is an exciting moment for our community to come together, not only to unite with our sister-city in the US but to celebrate Plymouth’s part in the voyage.”

At 5.30pm a lantern parade led by Plymouth City Pipe Band will follow the route from Commercial Wharf, along Notte Street, Buckwell Street and then onto the Minister Church of St. Andrew.

Local parade artist, Karen Evans has been working closely with the Racial Equality Council and community groups as well as schools across the city to create illuminating lanterns specifically for this parade. Visitors attending this event can join this parade as it makes its way to the church.

At 6.20pm Reverend Joe Dent will conduct a service to commemorate the occasion.

It is hoped the 2020 anniversary will be a pivotal moment for Plymouth that will provide a platform for a national celebration of the relationship between the UK and US and will place Plymouth’s unique heritage and contribution to world history, on the global map.

Speaking earlier this year about the programme of events to mark the anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, Dom Jinks, Executive Director of Plymouth Culture, said: “We are meeting several cultural organisations to share programme ideas to hopefully create something very special for 2020. These projects have the potential to create stunning events for the people of Plymouth that will leave a legacy and significantly develop the visitor economy of the city.”

More information about the Illuminate and Thanksgiving event can be found online at and

For further press information please contact:

Vicky Gunston, Marketing and Communications Officer
Email: / Tel: 01752 306342

Daniela Resenterra, PR Account Manager
Email: Tel:020 7593 1771

Josie Self, Senior PR Account Executive
Email: josies@hillsbalfo Tel:020 7593 1758

Mayflower 400 website launched featuring 2020 countdown

An exciting, informative and educational website has been launched this week by the Mayflower 400 leadership group to coincide with the visit by the US Ambassador for the UK, Matthew Barzun.

The website, which is sponsored by South West Water, follows the story of the Pilgrim Fathers before, during and after the epic journey they took on their quest to find the New World in 1620.

With links to many UK cities, Leiden in Holland and the US the website explains the way in which the Pilgrims travelled and what links these destinations have in a special relationship through history.

A main feature of the website is the countdown clock to the year 2020, the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower when the UK, Holland and the US will commemorate and celebrate with a series of events.

Deputy Leader of Plymouth City Council, Cllr Peter Smith, said: “As we’ve reached the five year countdown to 2020 it’s great to see the launch of the official Mayflower 400 website. Last year representatives came together to sign the Mayflower Compact, which demonstrates their commitment in working together towards the commemoration in 2020. Things have come a long way since then what with the US Ambassador visit, the launch of the website and Illuminate is just around the corner.

US Ambassador matthew Barzon

All of the destinations that are linked together by the story of the Mayflower have had a part to play in creating the website and it’s down to this partnership that we have been able to launch such an in-depth online tool.

Educational and school packs are also available to download from the website which explains the story in easy to digest, bit-sized chunks for younger generations to understand. This includes a factual and fictional story of the Mayflower Voyage along with a story telling challenge and guidance for teachers.

Children can become Mayflower detectives and delve into activity sheets to explore pictures, places and artefacts that lead them on a trail of investigation and discovery. They can also take part in Mayflower challenges which will see schools using resources to engage children in creating their own stories, publications and tours in a fun and creative way.

Adrian Vinken OBE, Chair of the Mayflower 400 Leadership Group, said: “All eleven destinations in the Mayflower Compact are passionate to convey the world-wide importance of the Pilgrims and the voyage of the Mayflower to our younger generations. They are at the heart of our plans for 2020 so finding an easy way to share that understanding now is really important.

“The Mayflower 400 website enables us to do that in a fun, exciting and creative way and we are talking to schools to ensure that it’s included in their learning curriculum.”

Dr Stephen Bird, Chief Operating Officer (Wholesale) at South West Water, sponsors of the website said: “We are delighted to support Mayflower 400 and, more specifically, its website, which will provide an excellent online gateway and resource to this fantastic initiative. As the supplier of high quality drinking water to the people of Plymouth, we are proud to commemorate and celebrate the historic ties between Plymouth and the United States. After all, the origins of a reliable water supply for Plymouth date back to Sir Francis Drake in the 16th century, before the Founding Fathers set sail for the New World.”

US Ambassador re-opens museum five years before Mayflower 400 anniversary

US Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun officially opened the newly refurbished Mayflower Museum on Plymouth’s Barbican during his two day visit to the city.

The Ambassador and Council Leader Tudor Evans unveiled a plaque in the waterfront museum, which is immediately opposite the Mayflower Steps where the Pilgrims set off 395 years ago.

The Ambassador was in Plymouth to meet the leadership group responsible for planning the Mayflower 400 events, for which Plymouth is the lead city in the UK.

US Ambassador matthew Barzon

US Ambassador matthew Barzon

During his visit he met with students, young people and business representatives and visited sites connected to the historic voyage to the United States.

He also paid his respects at a memorial to US servicemen in Saltash Passage, where V and V11 Corps of the United States Army set off for the beaches of Normandy in June 1944.

US Ambassador matthew Barzon

The Ambassador’s visit to Plymouth is a high point to date in the Mayflower 400 campaign, which ultimately seeks to invite all US presidents past and present to stand on the Mayflower steps in 2020.

It also coincided with the launch of the Mayflower 400 website and a national Mayflower education pack which is being distributed to schools in all 11 English towns and cities that make up the Mayflower 400 Compact.

Adrian Vinken OBE, chair of the Mayflower 400 Leadership Group, said: “We were honoured to welcome Ambassador Barzun to Plymouth and delighted to learn that he shares our passion for the whole international Mayflower 400 project.

“It demonstrates that the special relationship we share with the United States, which owes its origins to the Mayflower and the values of individual freedom and self-government which it embodied, is as relevant and strong as ever.

“Ambassador Barzun was very enthusiastic to learn about our plans and is keen to spread the word about the importance of the anniversary and the opportunities in provides on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Council Leader Tudor Evans wrote to the Ambassador last year inviting him to the city and a delegation from Plymouth to the USA in March visited the State Department to discuss Mayflower 400 and the international opportunity that the commemoration represents.

Councillor Evans said: “We’re delighted that Ambassador Barzun came to Plymouth almost exactly five years before this hugely important anniversary. The sailing of the Mayflower is arguably one the most influential single voyages in the history of the world and the spirit of that voyage and the beliefs that motivated it led to the creation of the most powerful nation on earth.

“We were able to discuss our plans with the Ambassador and he shared our excitement about the lasting potential for this anniversary on both sides of the Atlantic.

“It was also great to be able to share some of the many connections between Plymouth and the United States both past and present and show him the city where it all started.”

Ambassador Barzun said: “I love that the groups on both sides of the Atlantic are not just working behind the scenes for one big event on 16 September 2020, which will be a special day, but are spending time between now and then to give the project more momentum that can continue well beyond 2020.”

The Ambassador, who walked the Mayflower Trail in the Barbican and visited the Royal Navy base, said he would be recommending Plymouth to others.

“It’s worth coming here for the history and it’s worth coming for the vibrant things that are happening now,” he said. “You can see there’s an energy here, which is contagious.”

The Mayflower Anniversary 395 years

Today is the 395th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing on September 16th 1620

While this may seem like an age to many for Adrian Vinken OBE and the Mayflower 400 team in Plymouth it already seems that the 400th anniversary in 2020 is looming sharply on the horizon.

For those who are not already aware 2020 will be a landmark year. It marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, arguably the most influential single voyage in the history of the world. The ship quite literally carried with it the seed of the American nation. The spirit of that voyage and the beliefs that motivated it led to the creation of the most powerful nation on earth. Mayflower 400 is a key milestone and the team in Plymouth, which has been recognised as the national lead City for the anniversary, are working closely together to make it a truly memorable occasion of international significance to both sides of the Atlantic.

“The project has really started to gather momentum on both sides of the Atlantic” said Mr Vinken. “In July members of Mayflower 400, a partnership of locations from across the UK, Holland and the U.S. linked by one of the most influential sea voyages in history, formally launched the Mayflower 400 Compact in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.”

The launch was attended by over 80 UK leaders, Chief Executives and Members of Parliament all backing the ambitious 2020 vision to mark the 400th anniversary of an event, celebrated by many in the US as the beginning of a national legacy, and in the UK as the beginning of one of the most enduring alliances the world has ever known.

Our plans are well underway and include an ambitious programme of events and activities which we hope will leave a legacy for Plymouth as well as the wider UK partnership. We are delighted that we will reach yet another milestone in our planning next week when we will be visited by some of our US partners including Lea Filson the Governor General of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Anita Walker the Chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Michelle Pecoraro Director of Plymouth 400.

Part of the program next week will be to discuss in detail some of the joint events and cross cultural activities that are already shaping up. This will include education packs which have been developed and will be launched nationally next week, an internationally significant art exhibition and Transat, the blue riband transatlantic yacht race.

We have been delighted by the terrific support from our local sector partners. This includes Plymouth City Council, which is taking a major role alongside Plymouth Culture, Devon Chamber, Citybus, Plymouth University, City College, Destination Plymouth and Devonport Naval base. We would not have been able to make the sterling progress to date without their support.

Recent meetings with the Royal Navy have indicated a growing enthusiasm to take an active leadership role in joint military activities during 2020 and contact has already been made with the US and Dutch Navies. It is hoped to brief the First Sea Lord on ambitions for the project over the next month to try to secure the commitment of the admiralty to Mayflower 400.

Next week will also see the publication of a prospectus giving an overview of work on the commemorations to date alongside the launch of the Mayflower 400 website. The formal re-opening of the recently re-furbished Mayflower Museum will take place on the 24th September.

A further opportunity arising from the Mayflower 400 programme is the chance for Plymouth to be represented as part of the wider South West region at Destination America, a showcase of British tourism destinations in America.

Encouraging visitors to visit Plymouth pre, during and after 2020 is one of our major aims. We are delighted to be part of the South West delegation and to position the region as an exciting visitor destination outside of London explains Mr Vinken.

We will complete our overall plans of 2020 activities later this year and then the hard work will really start. Grant-funding applications will be developed, and national sponsorship sought. It is a challenging task and in its own way will also be an unforgettable journey of discovery for those who are working on the programme over the next five years and counting!

Mayflower Museum Opens

The Mayflower Museum opens after refurbishment

Plymouth’s Mayflower Museum is now open following a £35,000 refurbishment.

Three floors have been improved, thanks to a grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to create a more exciting and engaging experience for school children, families, local residents and tourists.

Deputy Council Leader Peter Smith said: “We’ve revamped the museum so that it better celebrates the story of Plymouth’s role in the Pilgrims’ epic journey to the New World, a story that will become increasingly significant as we get closer to the Mayflower 400 celebrations in 2020.”

Two floors now explore the story of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim Fathers with information and hands-on displays, meaning visitors can now learn even more about this important moment in Plymouth’s shared history with America. The third houses a new dedicated space for schools, family activities and meetings.

Highlights include dress-up and role play themed interactives, a model of the Mayflower built by Devonport Dockyard apprentices in 1969-70 and a list of all the Pilgrims and their hometowns.