Make It York Stakeholder Event: City leaders discuss what the future holds in light of the cost-of-living crisis 

This morning, delegates gathered in The National Centre for Early Music to hear from the Managing Director of Make It York, Sarah Loftus; Chair of Make It York, Greg Dyke; and a panel of city leaders on what organisations in York are doing to help businesses in the face of the cost-of-living crisis. 

Sarah Loftus opened the event by highlighting key achievements for Make It York over the past six months. Since April, 10.1 million people have viewed the organisation’s social content – across Visit York and Make It York channels – which has grown by 13.6% and clickthrough rates have increased by 93.3%. Plus, visits to the Visit York website are up 50% on 2018. 

Sarah Loftus also shared that Make It York has the highest engagement rate compared to any other Destination Management Organisation in the UK and that since April 2022, there has been the highest number of new members joining in the history of Make It York.  

Sarah acknowledged a tough few years for the organisation and assured delegates that Make It York has improved control of their finances. The organisation has also developed and implemented a robust and fair tendering process, including supplier environmental targets and achieving Good Business Charter.  

However, despite the positives, Sarah outlined the key challenges facing businesses and organisations in the city. The cost-of-living crisis is the “biggest challenge” faced by many, with VisitEngland’s domestic sentiment tracker for September showing that four in five believe that the worst is yet to come. International markets have been slow to return, with flight data showing that international bookings have fallen significantly from their high point in April/May. Sarah highlighted the importance of climate change as an industry standard, with more and more people demanding sustainable travel solutions.  

Despite a bleak outlook, Sarah assured delegates that Make It York will respond to these challenges by running more marketing campaigns and working more closely with tour operators to bring more spend to the city. Make It York will be attending World Travel Market in November, pushing York in front of 160 countries and 3000 exhibitors. As well as other key industry events, including ExploreGB which is the biggest Visit Britain event.  

Sarah also announced two exciting new projects, including a new sculpture trail in partnership with St Leonard’s Hospice that will be coming to the city next year. Plus, it has been announced today that York Civic Trust has been awarded a £249,999 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver the Trailblazers project in partnership with Make It York. More information can be found here

Chair of Make It York, Greg Dyke, gave an overview of the challenges faced from his own experience in his hotel business – from inflation, profit loss, employment levels and the impact this all has on service. However, Greg stressed that in the short-term market that numbers are holding up and there is much to be optimistic about. 

To close the event, Andrew Morrison from York Civic Trust chaired a panel discussion between Councillor Keith Aspden (Leader of City of York Council), James Farrar (COO at York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership), Joan Concannon (Director of External Relations at University of York), Judith McNicol (Director of NRM) and Greg Dyke (Chair of Make It York).  

Joan Concannon outlined the university’s plans to diversify international recruitment, while James Farrar advised businesses to have a clear plan and focus on their strengths in the face of adversity.  

Councillor Keith Aspden highlighted the importance of hospitality, tourism and retail to the economy in York. With energy prices rising, inflation and the challenges faced, Councillor Aspden warned that next year’s council budget won’t be easy. However, with regenerative projects in the city, there are opportunities to capitalise on projects and make money go further by working with partners across the city.  

Judith McNicol discussed the “phenomenal” opportunity York Central will bring to York, with £155m of government money building the infrastructure which will see a commercial centre support 6.5k new jobs in the city.  


For more information, please contact: 

Sarah Foster and Brittany Guymer 

Make It York Communications Team 

Notes to Editors: 

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising  
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy 

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