Summer will be unprecedented chance to showcase Yorkshire, says tourism boss

The chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire has claimed this summer’s tourism season will provide an unprecedented chance to showcase the region’s leading destinations and reinvigorate the domestic market for years to come.

James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire

The easing of lockdown restrictions from Monday will mean camp sites and self-contained holiday lets will be able to reopen in the first steps to rebuilding the fractured tourism sector.

Hotels and bed and breakfasts will have to wait until the next phase of the reopening of the economy on May 17 – the date pubs and restaurants are due to also welcome customers back inside, rather than just for outdoor dining and drinking.

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Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive James Mason, inset, stressed the first steps of the reopening were vital to boost public confidence.

He said: “There is cautious optimism that we have the opportunity to really capitalise on bringing people to Yorkshire, as well as letting people who live here know what is on their doorstep.

"With a lack of international travel, people are having to holiday in the UK this year and we need to manage the marketing of the most popular destinations, as they can’t be overwhelmed with visitors.

“But there are plenty of other places to stay, such as towns including Driffield, Selby and Halifax, which might not be traditional destinations but are equally great bases.

“This is about managing supply and demand and ensuring people have the best experience they can to make sure they realise this isn’t just about this year but they will come back in future years as well.”

Research by Welcome to Yorkshire has revealed 27 per cent of residents in the county are not planning to go on holiday this year, creating a major opportunity to market days trips and local tourism.

Tourism businesses reopening from Monday have seen a surge in demand from customers.

Original Cottages’ Yorkshire brand, Ingrid Flute’s Yorkshire Holiday Cottages, which manages 570 cottages from the coast to the Yorkshire Dales, has witnessed a 30 per cent rise in bookings compared to this time in 2019.

In the three days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the Government’s “road map” out of lockdown on February 22, the company – which has offices in Whitby, Leyburn and Hawes – took more than 4,000 bookings, a 379 per cent increase on the same days in 2019.

Prices have, however, increased to cope with the need for deep cleaning and to comply with Covid-19 regulations.

A fisherman’s cottage for a family of four is now being marketed for about £800, which is a £100 rise on 2019 prices before coronavirus struck.

Sarah Ward, the regional manager for the North for Original Cottages, said: “There have undoubtedly been major challenges but we are just so glad we are able to open up again.”

Susan Briggs, the director of the Yorkshire Tourism Network, has been helping to develop a marketing strategy for Scarborough, which will attempt to attract previous visitors back to the resort.

She said: “Whenever there is a major crisis there is always a return of nostalgia where people look back to times when they felt safe. The opportunities in Yorkshire are huge and this will hopefully help rebuild the tourism sector back from what has been such a tough year.”