How a 'summer of staycations' could bring a boost to North Yorkshire's tourism gems from glamping to holiday cottages
A tourism drive aimed at attracting a wave of visitors to North Yorkshire’s leading destinations hopes to capitalise on a surge of staycations.
The tourism sector across Yorkshire is worth an estimated £9bn, employing some 224,000 people at some of the country’s best loved settings – from national parks to coastal resorts.
Now, following a surge last summer in ‘holidays at home’ amid uncertainty over overseas travel, a concerted effort is underway to showcase North Yorkshire’s tourism gems.
As the countdown begins to the start of the summer season, with schools breaking up this month, authorities look to harness an element of loyalty among visitors.
He said: “We have a wealth of tourism destinations in North Yorkshire that is hard to surpass anywhere else in the country, and for that we should be truly grateful.
“We have two National Parks covering the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors as well as some of the country’s most treasured seaside towns including Scarborough, Whitby and Filey, and this summer is an opportunity to ensure that we can bring in holidaymakers who can experience the wonderful places which North Yorkshire has to offer.”
Launching a luxury glamping business on the family farm, in the middle of a global pandemic, Katy Doman took a chance on a lifelong ambition that she hopes can only grow.
The Lazy T launched last June at Tylas Farm, in an idyllic setting to the north of Helmsley where her parents Jane and Ivan Holmes oversee a herd of beef cattle.
There’s a new cabin, and a five-metre dome tent, along with a cottage and a second tent to arrive in coming weeks. All last summer, the accommodation was fully booked.
To Mrs Doman, with husband Skot and their four-year-old daughter Ava, the hope is that last summer’s success can be maintained, even as travel restrictions ease.
The couple had been planning The Lazy T for years, she said, and while the pandemic brought a tough time to so many people it did give them the chance to realise their ambition.
Already, she said, they have noticed a significant shift this year. Bookings are coming from the North of England, and especially Yorkshire, as people look to stay closer to home.
“A lot of people are struggling with the cost of living, and they do not want to have lavish holidays abroad, so are increasingly looking to places like ourselves,” she said.
“That is obviously really good news for the tourism industry here in the UK, and we are hopeful that this will be a trend going forward, as people also look to protecting the environment by not travelling massive distances around the world for a holiday.”
Tourism is the biggest industry in the village of Robin Hood’s Bay, which is famed for its 18th century smuggling history and the secret tunnels under its cobbled, quaint streets.
Tens of thousands of visitors descend every summer, exploring the coastline or enjoying the area’s independent shops, galleries and cafes.
Sam Asher, with business partner Sian Jones, inset, opened their first holiday cottage in 2017, with their Baytown Holiday Cottages portfolio since growing to 22 properties.
Last year they witnessed a record year for bookings. Now they are hopeful to once again see a bumper summer, with holidaymakers remaining in the UK.
Mr Asher said: “Only a few months ago, things were pretty quiet, but I think people have taken stock because finances have become increasingly tight and they were just waiting to see exactly what they can afford.
“We have seen bookings pick up a great deal, and we have actually opened up our calendar for reservations for next year already, which is a lot earlier than normal because we were getting so many inquiries.
"It does seem more and more people are looking to book a holiday in the UK, which is obviously really good news, and it is hopefully a trend that will continue for years to come.”
Tourism marketing for Yorkshire remains at a crossroads after Welcome to Yorkshire was placed into administration in March, with council leaders across the region withdrawing funding.
Entrepreneur Robin Scott bought the Welcome to Yorkshire brand, although it is thought his efforts are to be centred around the Yorkshire.com website.
Coun Les, who sat as a board member on the tourism body at its heyday, confirmed council leaders have held “positive” discussions with Mr Scott about his plans.
Authorities are also investigating the potential for a new tourism body for the region, he said. A decision on creating a new destination management organisation for Yorkshire is expected to be made by council leaders later this year, potentially in the autumn.
It comes after findings from Visit England suggest a third of people plan on taking more overnight trips within the UK in the coming year although the organisation also found that 23 per cent also plan on taking more overnight trips abroad as restrictions ease.
North Yorkshire’s tourism economy reported a much-needed boost last summer, as uncertainty remained around overseas travel and with rapidly-changing restrictions.
Now, holidaymakers face a balancing act with the start of the school holidays amid a rising cost-of-living crisis that has placed a greater burden on family budgets.
With recent reports of chaotic scenes at some of the nation’s airports, and with flight cancellations amid staffing shortages, NYCC looks to champion its staycation offer.
Susan Briggs is director of the Tourism Network, working with more than 1,000 businesses across North Yorkshire.
The sector was hit hard through the pandemic and with repeated lockdowns, she said, but with the easing of restrictions last summer came more people looking to holiday in the UK.
Now, she said, many are planning to return, with fuel prices meaning more people are taking a look at what’s on their doorstep – and with a rise in people staying in the region.
“North Yorkshire is the golden destination as there is so much on offer, from rural getaways to city breaks and holidays on the coast,” she said. “We’re fortunate to have many loyal visitors.
“I’m working with businesses to help them capitalise on North Yorkshire’s sense of place – the special qualities of places such as the North York Moors National Park that make it so distinctive and attractive.
“Our aim is to also make sure that local communities and businesses benefit directly from the visitor economy, attracting visitors who want to buy local products and enjoy activities without travelling too far.”
The county is home to many smaller, independent enterprises, she added, and many are working hard to keep price rises to a minimum.
Coun Les said this was key to building loyalty among holidaymakers.
“We have to be mindful that finances are a concern for so many people, and especially if we want holidaymakers to consider returning to North Yorkshire again in the future,” he said.
“To ensure that a long-term and sustainable vision for tourism is achievable, not just for North Yorkshire but the whole region, then value for money and the best experience possible must be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.”
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