Skipton High Street sees near 300 per cent increase in football, as tourism chief prepares for 'battle' when restrictions are lifted

The chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire has claimed that the region’s tourism sector needs to capitalise on its hugely broad appeal as a key battle lays ahead for one of the most important summer seasons in living memory.

Skipton High Street
Skipton High Street

A predicted multi-billion pound boom in the domestic tourism sector has been predicted during the coming months as holiday-makers are forced to look towards vacations in the UK rather than heading abroad due to ongoing restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

James Mason, who heads up the Welcome to Yorkshire tourism organisation, has said an increasingly competitive battleground is being laid out for the summer months as tourism destinations across the country are attempting to attract visitors.

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Mr Mason told The Yorkshire Post: “We have already seen a massive demand in people wanting to come to Yorkshire, but that is not to say we can be complacent. We are in a battle with other tourism bodies, we are all in the same position trying to capitalise on the summer season and attract as many people as we can.

“It is a challenge, but it is also an extremely exciting time as well, as there are huge opportunities to promote Yorkshire and all that is on offer here.”

The easing of lockdown restrictions has allowed the first elements of Yorkshire’s multi-billion pound tourism industry to re-open, with campsites and self-contained holiday lets able to once again welcome visitors.

Data on visitor numbers is still being compiled by Welcome to Yorkshire, although anecdotal evidence has suggested that the region’s towns and cities have been inundated with customers also keen to take advantage of the re-opening of pubs and restaurants with outside dining areas since last month (April).

Figures for Skipton, for example, have shown that footfall in the North Yorkshire market town’s High Street for the week ending on Sunday last weekend was 36,209 people - a 284 per cent increase on the same week in 2020 when just 9,418 people were counted during the first lockdown.

However, the figure is still dramatically down on the 2019 figure, when 51,699 people visited Skipton’s High Street before the arrival of coronavirus.

Mr Mason confirmed that efforts are now underway to ensure that prime destinations are not swamped with visitors, and he told The Yorkshire Post that a new marketing campaign is underway to market the region’s “hidden gems”.

A weekly newsletter and social media posts are highlighting destinations such as the Yorkshire Wolds, as well as towns such as Doncaster and Driffield and coastal resorts including Filey and Hornsea.

Mr Mason said: “We do need to make sure that those honeypot destinations, such as York, Scarborough, Whitby and the National Parks for the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors are not overwhelmed, as demand really is outstripping supply already.

“We are asking people to consider looking towards those destinations which might not have been at the forefront of their thoughts, as there are so many hidden gems in Yorkshire.

“Driffield, for instance, is a wonderful market town with the Yorkshire Wolds on its doorstep, while Doncaster has the Yorkshire Wildlife Park close by and the Peak District is within easy reach too.

“We are blessed with so much on offer in Yorkshire, and these places are ideal as anchor destinations to then explore what else is in the region.”

Tourism in Yorkshire is seen as one of the key foundations for rebuilding the economy, as the sector is worth £9bn each year and employs 225,000 workers in the region.