Tourism firm behind Tour de France bid in line for role with regional councils

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. Picture by James Hardisty.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. Picture by James Hardisty.
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Tour de France bid-winning tourism firm Welcome to Yorkshire is being lined up by Leeds City Council to attract visitors to Leeds City Region as a whole.

The move could see the agency, led by chief executive Gary Verity, commissioned in the “medium term” to take over some of the tourism-related functions of the council’s soon-to-be wound up Leeds and Partners company.

At a meeting of the council’s executive board on Wednesday, councillors approved plans to discontinue Leeds and Partners in a bid to help secure inward investment and tourism with the help of regional partners.

When changes take effect in April, the council will oversee the visitor economy in the short term, while attracting inward investment will be the responsibility of regional authorities through the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Speaking of the visitor economy, leader Coun Keith Wakefield said: “We are bringing it back and probably looking at other colleagues and authorities and seeing if we could look at the visitor economy and tourism trade.”

The report to councillors stated: “There is also scope in the medium term to consider future collaboration on the visitor economy at city region level, potentially linked to the commissioning of Welcome to Yorkshire.”

Leeds and Partners was set up two years ago to attract jobs and investment to Leeds. Disbanding it will save the council around £1million in administrative costs.

Mr Verity said Welcome to Yorkshire “look forward to doing all we can” to enhance Leeds’s vibrant tourism offering further.

This week councils in York and Scarborough agreed six-figure funding to host stages of the first Tour of Yorkshire cycle race in May 2015, which Welcome to Yorkshire is organising with Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation.