£1bn bid to market York to tourists

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Bold plans to support businesses and attract investment to York and put the city on the map as a must-see destination have been launched as part of wider hopes of creating a tourism sector worth £1bn to the local economy.

Today 300 leaders from the city’s business and cultural communities gathered at the Park Inn hotel to hear plans for the new company Make It York, which is tasked with helping to bolster the local economy.

As well as promoting tourism both in the UK and to international markets, including the lucrative Chinese market, it will also showcase York’s business opportunities and its cultural offer.

Councillors in the city earlier backed plans to bring the work delivered by Visit York, Science City York and York Council’s inward investment, business support and events and festivals teams into one new company. It is hoped the move will offer savings in the long term and also provide a more focused approach.

Steve Brown, managing director of Make It York, said: “The best interests of York will always be at the heart of what we do.

“Ultimately our aim is to enable our city and its surroundings to develop as a world-class vibrant and attractive destination to live, visit, study and do business.”

York’s economy currently supports around 8,105 businesses and 114,000 jobs.

Plans unveiled today include moves to try to persuade firms to locate or re-locate to York, and steps will also be taken to try to persuade more retailers to open in the area. A mobile phone App will be used to promote the city to businesses.

It will also play a key role in attracting investment and working to exploit opportunities for high growth science sectors. Part of this is the establishment of a brand new fund available for start-up businesses operating in the city’s creative, science and technology sectors.

Efforts will be made to ensure the city taps into its further potential as a destination for both British and international visitors. Ambitious plans have already been announced to create a tourism sector worth £1bn by 2024.

At present 6.7m people a year visit annually and spend £573m and support 19,000 jobs. A new poll by TripAdviser found York was 8th in the UK for the number of hotels, restaurants and attractions qualifying for its 2015 certificate of excellence.

However last year a report prepared for York Council’s cabinet noted more could be done to market the city.

It read: “..whilst the city has a number of significant assets which set it apart from other cities, particularly in the North, York underperforms in areas of productivity and inward investment.

“There is also evidence that the city could extract more value from the visitor economy; hence the city’s tourism vision of doubling the value of tourism by 2020.”

Make It York wants to increase the number of conferences and business meetings the city hosts as part of plans to boost business tourism.

Tourism bosses are working to promote the city to Chinese visitors and York will also be part of a new 12 month campaign to market the North of England in key international markets. A £10m fund will be managed by VisitEngland, working with VisitBritain and other partners across the North.

Jane Lady Gibson, Chair of Make It York said: “...our aim is to maximise York’s potential to the full.”