Ripon's long-term hospitality and retail vision to be launched in June in a bid to boost tourism to historic city

A long-term vision for the hospitality and retail sectors in one of England’s oldest cities will be launched later this month as businesses will be levied to finance a spectrum of improvements to help bolster the region’s multi-billion pound tourism industry.

Ripon city centre
Ripon city centre

The strategy has been drawn up to help entice more visitors to Ripon in North Yorkshire with a host of measures set to improve the ancient city’s shops, cafes and restaurants as well its tourist attractions.

Businesses and organisations in Ripon have given their overwhelming support to establishing a Business Improvement District (BID) to inject more than £800,000 into schemes ranging from parking and public transport improvements to promoting the city’s market.

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The new initiative is due to commence from this month for a five-year term and will be financed through a levy on tourism, retail and hospitality businesses. Attractions including Ripon Cathedral, Newby Hall and the World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal will be a major focus of the BID, along with the city’s independent retail sector.

Nearly two-thirds of the 250 retail units in the city are independent traders, and the vacancy rate of shops in Ripon was seven per cent in March, compared with a national average of 14 per cent.

Stuart Baldwin, the founder of Abacus Smarter Accountants in Ripon, has been involved in developing the plan for the BID, which began in late 2018.

He said: “The new BID will be aimed at attracting more visitors, but it is also about making the city even more attractive for the residents, and ensuring that they continue to contribute to the local economy. However, this is not simply about the economic benefits for Ripon, as this will have an impact on the wider regional economy, attracting more people to Yorkshire as a whole.”

A total of 286 businesses took part in the ballot, with an overwhelming 80 per cent voting to back the BID. A not-for-profit company will govern the BID with a board of up to 10 directors.

Yorkshire’s tourism sector is worth £9bn each year.

Since the Government passed legislation in 2004, more than 300 BIDs have been created nationally, which will bring in £100m in funding throughout the next five years.

BIDs have already been launched for locations including Northallerton, Harrogate, Skipton and York.