INTERNATIONAL air passengers landing in Heathrow from today will be “inspired” to visit Yorkshire as a major advertising campaign is launched to boost the region’s multi-million pound tourism industry.
With the Tour de France just over a fortnight away, 134 digital screens in all of Heathrow’s terminals will be promoting the region’s countryside, including the Buttertubs Pass in the Dales, which will present riders the biggest climb of stage one, and giving a flavour of Yorkshire’s architecture and retail sector.
Striking images of Brodsworth Hall and Gardens in South Yorkshire, Sutton Bank in the North York Moors and Leeds’s Victoria Arcade also feature in the adverts, which aim to encourage tourism to Yorkshire before, during and after the world’s largest annual sporting event rolls through the county on July 5 and 6.
The new poster ads make up the second round of a 12-month advertising programme worth £1m, gifted by Heathrow to help VisitBritain promote Britain’s nations and regions to international visitors.
VisitBritain said it wanted to champion Yorkshire in the run-up to the Tour and on the back of last year’s record spend by visitors of £584m, 35 per cent up on the year.
But yesterday Welcome to Yorkshire, which successfully bid to bring the tour to Yorkshire, said it was disappointed not to have received a penny in Government funding for marketing.
Chief executive Gary Verity said: “It is terrific to see Yorkshire being promoted at a major gateway into the UK.
“With the biggest annual sporting event in the world coming to Yorkshire in just two weeks this is a golden opportunity to put the spotlight on the county, particularly overseas and to make sure we all work together to attract more visitors and boost the tourism economy.
“However, it is disappointing that the Government chose not to give us any funding to market Yorkshire.”
Last year Yorkshire received 1.2m visits from overseas – an increase of 11.7 per cent on the previous year and almost back to 2008’s pre-economic crisis record.
Visitors spent an average of 8.6 nights in Yorkshire and the total amount spent in 2013 reached a new record of £584m.
The marketing director of VisitBritain, Joss Croft, said: “This is Yorkshire’s time to shine. Building on the record spend figures across the region, we want to enhance the tourism opportunities surrounding the Grand Départ and inspire our international visitors to explore Britain as they pass through Heathrow Airport.
“Our partnership with Heathrow will continue our promotional activity to ensure that the economic growth from tourism and the jobs that the industry delivers are spread right across the country.”
Heathrow’s CEO, Colin Matthews, added: “Around 13 million passengers a year already use Heathrow as their gateway to Britain’s regions and have the option to fly directly to Leeds Bradford Airport from Heathrow. This partnership with VisitBritain is designed to inspire passengers to explore further afield in the UK during their visit – or on future trips.
The first three stages of the Tour de France, including a final stage from Cambridge to London, has a total budget of £27m, which has come from local authorities in Yorkshire, Transport for London and central Government. Leeds City Council’s contribution is £3.6m. Organisers say they are “working towards our goal of balancing the budget”.