Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive playing 'game of survival' for region's tourism agency

Welcome to Yorkshire's chief executive has admitted he is now playing a "game of survival" for the tourism agency due to the coronavirus epidemic.

James Mason called for greater collaboration between the region's business owners, visitor attractions and government departments to steer a path through the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Mason told BBC Radio Leeds: "Tourism is playing a huge part every year to boost the lifestyles, the economic growth of this county.

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"So from the bed and breakfasts in Calder Valley through to the big tourist attractions like York Minister or Bolton Abbey or The Deep in Hull, it's really important that we come up with a plan together for Covid-19 and post Covid-19.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive James Mason

Mr Mason took over the role in January in the wake of the resignation of former chief executive Sir Gary Verity and resulting scandals.

He said: "I'm playing the game of survival now for Welcome to Yorkshire. My ultimate aim as the chief executive is to keep the business going.

"This is a time for collaboration. Those at the coal face of tourism - the bed and breakfasts and the hotels, the restaurants and visitor attractions - and local authorities and bigger organisations like Visit Britain and Visit England and governmental departments.

"Welcome To Yorkshire is good at celebrating, but now we need to offer real cold hard business action for our members".

Yorkshire's visitor economy is worth around £9bn a year but the lockdown is already taking its toll on tourism-related businesses

Mr Mason added: "We are an organisation that doesn't have a pot of gold. We don't have serious deep pockets.

"So we have to demonstrate our guile, our ability, our agility to act as that conduit between local business and local and central government.

"We have to demonstrate that we can offer a membership that is fit for purpose."