Revamp of old Welcome to Yorkshire website will 'allow businesses to flourish'

The company which bought Welcome to Yorkshire’s website has announced it will be upgraded and relaunched this summer to allow “tourism and other Yorkshire businesses to flourish”.

Silicon Dales acquired Yorkshire.com, another 153 other domain names, social media accounts and the rights to run the Tour de Yorkshire for an undisclosed amount last month, as the tourism agency’s assets were sold off at auction after it went into administration.

Managing Director Robin Scott, from Leyburn, said his ecommerce marketing agency, which develops websites and provides technical support to a range of companies, is not looking to become a new tourism agency.

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But it has set up a new company, called Yorkshire.com (International) Ltd, which will run Yorkshire.com and other assets from a new office in York and work with businesses to promote the region.

Robin Scott's company Silicon Dales bought Welcome to Yorkshire's most valuable assets at auction

Yorkshire.com is now due to be upgraded and relaunched in August, but the new owners are not planning to remove any of the listings for the region’s tourism and hospitality businesses or charge membership fees.

In a statement, the company said: “We will leave current listings online, and – as soon as possible – allow former members to update or edit their listings, add events, or post offers.

“Those with current logins will be able to continue using them immediately to post offers, events and update their listings – we want tourism and other Yorkshire businesses to flourish on Yorkshire.com.

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“In the near future – expected around the end of August – we will be launching a revamped and updated version of the website, which will contain several upgrades; after this, new packages and opportunities will be offered to all.

“Before then, we’ll offer bespoke advertising and listing packages to those who are interested in getting a presence on the Yorkshire.com website for summer 2022.”

Mr Scott has also said he wants to “save the Tour de Yorkshire” and bring the cycling race back to the region by 2024.

Welcome to Yorkshire was a private company but it was reliant on millions of pounds of public funding provided by councils.

The organisation went into administration in March, as council leaders from across the region decided to stop funding it, following a £25,000 independent review.

Last month it was revealed the tourism agency owed £2m to 67 creditors when it collapsed – including over £1m to a local government pension fund.

It was originally led by Sir Gary Verity, who received a knighthood for bringing the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014, but he left the organisation in 2019, amid allegations he had bullied staff and misused expenses.

His successor James Mason joined Welcome to Yorkshire in January 2020 but left the organisation last October in the midst of an investigation into an unspecified complaint. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Four board members resigned in connection with Mr Mason’s departure and he was not replaced as chief executive.

Plans to set up a new Destination Marketing Organisation to promote Yorkshire are currently being explored by council bosses and they will discuss them at a meeting later this month.