Region’s top destinations battling to attract holidaymakers

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TOURISM leaders in some of Yorkshire’s prime destinations have admitted they are battling harder to attract visitors who are becoming increasingly frugal during the economic downturn.

Evidence has emerged that holidaymakers who are managing to afford a break are choosing cheaper options as their bank balances continue to come under intense pressure.

Many financially stricken families have decided not to go on traditional summer holidays, raising questions over the future of the so-called staycation which has led to Britons taking domestic vacations rather than travelling overseas in recent years.

The Yorkshire Post has learnt that key destinations have suffered a downturn in visitor numbers in recent months.

A report to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s finance and resources committee has revealed that revenue from car parking is down 10 per cent on last year during the period between April and June.

If the trend continues throughout this financial year, the already cash-starved authority will be facing a £55,000 deficit from its car parking revenues, which generate more than £500,000 annually.

But chief executive David Butterworth maintained that new data suggested income from parking charges was only about three per cent down on last year, although he admitted a clearer picture would only emerge once the main summer season was over.

He added: “At a time of economic downturn, the information is suggesting that people are still coming out into the countryside. But they are not staying overnight and they are certainly not spending as much as they were in previous years.”

Tourism officials in York revealed visitors are becoming increasingly “price savvy” as disposable incomes reduce. While York can still command some of the highest accommodation prices nationally, average room rates have fallen by two per cent to £74.52.

Visit York’s public relations manager, Kay Hyde, maintained that tourism in the city is “performing well”, but added: “Consumers are more price savvy than ever before and looking for value for money. Visit York is responding to this by ensuring all visitors to the city feel they are getting the best possible experience when they stay in York.”

Sales of the Yorkshire Pass, which provides discounted admission for attractions, have increased significantly since it was launched in May last year.

A total of 4,201 passes were sold between May and July this year compared with 3,792 passes during the same period in 2010, indicating visitors are looking to save money in any way they can.