York's economy making strong recovery from pandemic with more visitors than before coronavirus hit, but businesses struggling to recruit

York's economy is making a strong recovery from the impact of coronavirus – with significantly more visitors recorded in the city than before the pandemic on some days.

But businesses face serious problems recruiting staff – particularly chefs, carers, managers and lorry drivers.

City of York Council is planning to hold a summit to tackle the staffing problems.

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The number of people visiting York increased significantly in April, May and June, returning to, or above, the levels seen in 2019.

Shoppers on The Shambles in York

The number of people visiting Parliament Street increased by more than 70 per cent between April and June this year, and was “significantly above 2019 levels” on some days with Sundays proving particularly popular.

Data from York BID reveals that an increasing number of people are coming to the city from elsewhere in the UK – with almost half of visitors living more than 50km away.

A review of York’s economy between April and June shows huge demand for hotels, tourist attractions, shops and restaurants in the city since restrictions were lifted.

The report says: “The city centre consumer-driven economy has reopened strongly, with footfall returning to levels close to, and on occasions above, pre-pandemic levels last seen in 2019.

“Hotels and visitor attractions report strong forward bookings through July and into August, and York is attracting strong demand from the staycation market.”

Businesses are thriving, but struggling to get staff for skilled and semi-skilled roles.

Economic experts say the staffing issues are pushing up wages.

Around one in five workers in York are paid below the Real Living Wage of £9.50 an hour according to the latest data from 2020 and the council is expecting to see that figure change as a result of the staffing problems faced by businesses.

A hospitality summit will be held to look for solutions to the city’s recruitment problems.

But the crisis stretches further than a lack of qualified job applicants – there are currently more than 180 apprenticeship vacancies within 15 miles of York too.

Companies say there are not enough applicants to fill the roles.

Despite the challenges, more businesses are looking to expand in York or move to the city and tourism body Make It York says there has been strong demand for industrial space outside the city centre.

The council’s economic team is due to discuss the findings at a meeting today, Tuesday.

Rising visitor numbers in York have put pressure on police – with one officer saying there had been a “very high number of violent incidents” in the city centre on Saturday night.

North Yorkshire Police faced a busy weekend with a number of incidents reported.

Last month the force revealed it was receiving the highest number of emergency calls since records began – with staff in the force control room answering more calls a day than they do on New Year’s Eve.

The rise is thought to be caused by lots of people coming to North Yorkshire on staycations, as well as the easing of lockdown restrictions and an increase in incidents, assistant chief constable Mark Pannone said.