Welcome to Yorkshire owed more than £3m to creditors, liquidators reveal
The agency went into administration in early 2022 after local council leaders decided to withdraw public funding for the private organisation following years of financial and reputational problems.
After being established as the successor organisation to the Yorkshire Tourist Board, 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 on health grounds in 2019 amidst concerns about expense spending and the treatment of staff.
A recently-published report by liquidators Armstrong Watson has revealed that Welcome to Yorkshire was in a worse financial situation than had been believed at the time of its administration.
It said: “I have received a number of claims from unsecured creditors which total £3,170,469 compared to the company’s statement of affairs which indicated unsecured creditor claims would be in the order of £1,803,212.”
The report said there will be “sufficient funds” to repay some money towards creditors but it is not yet clear how much. It did not list who is owed money.
Claims totalling £9,750 from former members of staff listed as preferential creditors have been repaid in full.
A ‘Statement of Affairs’ document published on Companies House in April 2022 revealed at that stage that Welcome to Yorkshire had £2.1m of identified debts to 67 different creditors include £1.3m to North Yorkshire County Council in regard to the North Yorkshire Pension Fund it administers.
The company had just over £1m in estimated assets at the time of its collapse.
The debt figures included an unpaid tax bill of £296,000 to HM Revenue and Customs.
The money to HMRC is expected to be repaid in full and liquidators said talks are ongoing about a potential VAT overpayment which may reduce the final amount being claimed by the tax service.
It was initially planned that a new council-led tourism body would replace Welcome to Yorkshire.
Council bosses attempted to buy the WtY name and assets from administrators but was outbid by private firm Silicon Dales, which has subsequently largely concentrated on building up its yorkshire.com website rather than traditional tourism agency activities.
Different parts of the region are now establishing their own Local Visitor Economy Partnerships instead of pursuing an overarching single organisation.