Case Study: The Yorkshire Tour Guide

The Yorkshire Tour Guide : A Bespoke Experience

Visit York member, The Yorkshire Tour Guide who offer both private walking tours of York and chauffeur guided tours of Yorkshire are back operating their bespoke tour experiences with new measures in place to ensure both the safety and comfort of guests.

The team is led by Howard Smelt-Webb who is from a farming background (the famous vet, James Herriot (Alf Wight) used to be the vet for the family farm!) and after being a police officer in York for thirty years has intimate local knowledge of the city and its hidden gems. With tour bookings cancelled following the Covid-19 outbreak, Howard and his team have since adapted their business to develop their bespoke walking tours in York – providing a healthy, outdoor experience for visitors to enjoy plenty of Yorkshire fresh air!

A former police officer, Howard explains where the idea of him becoming a tour guide began, “In 2008 we did Bed and Breakfast from our farmhouse in Lower Wensleydale – I often used to cook breakfast in my police uniform and then go off to work! One of our guests who was from Norfolk had never seen the dry stone walls that the Yorkshire Dales are so famous for – so on this particular day I put together a tour itinerary for this guest and his wife with recommendations on what to see and where to go – they came back that evening saying they’d had a great day and suggested that when I retired from the police I should start a tour guide company … the seed was sown!”

30 years later, Howard started a luxury chauffeur company specialising in tours of Yorkshire and this has evolved since with the team now offering both private and bespoke walking tours of York and chauffeur guided tours of Yorkshire. A range of vehicles are available so all group sizes can be catered for.

Howard continues “I enjoy meeting new people and having the opportunity to show people around York and Yorkshire – we have had a range of guests over the years from both the U.K. and abroad, from all walks of life and has sometimes included Hollywood actors, politicians, rock stars, television / sports personalities and high profile business people. The key thing we offer guests is discretion together with a totally bespoke and flexible service tailored to individual requirements.”

One such ‘high profile’ guest visited York in July. Howard picks up the story – “On a Thursday lunchtime, we received a telephone call from a PA in London asking if we were available to provide a bespoke chauffeur guided / walking tour of York that coming Sunday. The guest would be flying up from London in his helicopter with his security team. After confirming details and liaising with his security, we did a recce of the proposed tour route the day before. We had a very flexible itinerary which could be modified on the day if required and took covid restrictions into account. Thankfully the weather was kind to us on the day itself. The guests flew into the outskirts of York by helicopter – we collected the guest’s party with our Jaguar XJL joining other security vehicles for the journey into the city centre.

York was at its best and the guests were thrilled with their visit which included a walk along the city walls, a tour round York Minster, a traditional Sunday lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding together with a walk round York’s historic streets. We then got back in the cars and took a scenic route back to the helicopter via the Knavesmire.” Howard concludes “It was a great day – everything went very smoothly and most importantly of all, the guests really enjoyed themselves and want to return to York as soon as possible.”

Howard and the team have implemented a number of new safety measures including for chauffeur driven tours ensuring face masks and hand sanitiser are provided for the drivers & guests, as well as air purifiers in the vehicles and an enhanced internal cleaning programme. With a range of vehicles available, consideration is given to size of the group and which vehicle is best, whilst also ensuring that guests feel comfortable and enjoy their experience.

Looking ahead, Howard’s team is expanding with a new guide joining this month bringing a wealth of local knowledge which will help enhance the tour guest’s experience and extra historical expertise from his current studies at the University of York in Archaeology . Howard also continues to increase his already significant knowledge on York’s history by taking part in a new University of York course focusing on ‘York:From Romans to the Present Day’ this month.

Howard and his team are welcoming enquiries and bookings for future tours and more information is available here:

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