Tourism businesses in York and North Yorkshire are to be given more support with a new vision to help to ensure that the multi-billion pound visitor economy reaches its full potential.
A joint bid for a Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) for both York and North Yorkshire has been approved, paving the way for a far more co-ordinated and strategic approach to promoting the tourism sector.
Local Visitor Economy Partnerships have been introduced as part of the Government’s response to an independent review of how the nation’s visitor economy is co-ordinated and promoted and have the potential to draw in additional support and funding from Westminster.
It is hoped that the new partnership, which has been approved by a panel involving the VisitEngland tourism organisation and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will ensure that the greatest benefits are achieved for both York and North Yorkshire’s visitor economy.
Tourism is worth more than £3.2 billion each year in York and North Yorkshire, and in excess of 60,000 workers are employed in the sector.
Council leader, Cllr Carl Les, said: “This announcement marks a watershed in the way we can help promote the visitor economy in both York and North Yorkshire.
“We know only too well how valuable the visitor economy is, providing jobs for tens of thousands of people and attracting visitors from across the globe.
“It is particularly important for North Yorkshire, as we now have the opportunity for a countywide strategy to promote the visitor economy following the launch of North Yorkshire Council in April.”
The announcement of the Local Visitor Economy Partnership is the latest indication of an increasingly close working relationship between City of York Council and ourselves with the prospect of a devolution deal and a combined authority.
City of York Council’s leader, Cllr Claire Douglas, said: “Known around the world as ‘God’s own county’, York and North Yorkshire are blessed with an incredible experience for anyone wanting to visit and enjoy our region.
“Our amazing range of independent businesses and SMEs within the tourism and hospitality sector provide unique services and experiences for visitors, along with a huge range of flexible and interesting roles for people working in the industry.
“We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in North Yorkshire to develop this essential industry for our region, to provide as much support as we can to help it grow sustainably, build more resilience and deliver improved pay, terms and conditions and productivity for its workforce.”
VisitEngland’s director, Andrew Stokes, who chaired the Local Visitor Economy Partnership panel, visited some of the region’s leading tourist attractions last month (October), including the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in Pickering and Clifford’s Tower in York.
Andrew said: “Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs) are at the heart of transforming the visitor economy landscape in England and we are delighted North Yorkshire Council and City of York Council worked together on the joint bid.
“We look forward to continuing our close collaboration as the LVEP is established and VisitEngland will provide expert support alongside guidance and resources in areas from product distribution, accessibility and sustainability to business support, funding bids and marketing.
“There is an incredibly diverse visitor economy in York and North Yorkshire, with wonderful coastlines, incredible National Parks and some of the best towns and cities that England has to offer and this new LVEP will ensure the region continues to be a compelling destination for both domestic and international visitors.”
Among those businesses which are set to benefit from the launch of the new Local Visitor Economy Partnerships is Bolton Abbey estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The estate, which takes its name from a 12th century monastery in the grounds, attracts more than 250,000 visitors every year.
Bolton Abbey’s visitor experience and marketing manager, Moira Smith, said: “Visitors have been welcomed to Bolton Abbey since the foundation of the Priory in 1154. We continue to extend a warm welcome to those who come to explore the estate’s diverse landscape and we are delighted that the Local Visitor Economy Partnership will support this.
“The co-ordinated approach across the county will help us to realise the full potential of the visitor economy. Here at Bolton Abbey, the benefits will extend to our growing team, our community of on-estate businesses and the local economy.”
Local Visitor Economy Partnerships involve both the private and public sectors and will need to follow a new national process to be eligible for support and potential funding from the Government.
Established destinations in York and North Yorkshire, such as the coast, the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, Harrogate and market towns, are due to be supported through the proposed Local Visitor Economy Partnership.
A draft destination management plan for North Yorkshire and a proposed tourism strategy overseen by Make It York formed the foundations for the bid. Both documents will be considered by the relevant council executives by the start of next year.
The York Tourism Advisory Board is currently developing the city’s new tourism strategy alongside Make It York, City of York Council and the York BID.
The board’s chair, Brendan Paddison, who is also Associate Professor and Associate Dean at York St John University, said: “Achieving Local Visitor Economy Partnership status is a brilliant outcome for York and North Yorkshire.
“This will support Make It York and City of York Council to continue to position York as a leading destination, and working with North Yorkshire Council and the new mayoral combined authority, to advocate for the importance of tourism to the city and region together.”
There is a significant crossover in the priorities of the draft strategies for both York and North Yorkshire, adding even greater weight to pursue the joint bid.
Both of the proposed plans are looking to promote a year-round visitor economy, while ensuring that it is heavily themed on sustainability and that the industry can thrive alongside communities living in York and North Yorkshire.
It is hoped the promotional drive will ensure visitors stay for longer and explore more of what York and North Yorkshire have to offer, while attracting more people to travel from overseas.