Yorkshire is the third best region in the world to visit in 2014, according to travel guide company Lonely Planet.
There has been something of a regional renaissance in these parts, Lonely Planet says in the latest edition of its bestselling yearbook, claiming that it has cast aside old, out-dated assertions and that local pride has been lifted to new heights by the London 2012 success of Yorkshire athletes such as Jessica Ennis, the Brownlee brothers and Lizzie Armistead.
In its new Best in Travel 2014 publication, Lonely Planet says: “If the good people of Yorkshire were proud of their heritage before, the 2012 London Olympics only served to cement what they have always thought: that their county is better than – and really the best of – all the English counties.
“Recently this rough-around-the-edges gentleman of the north has kicked away the walking cane. Bradford has become the world’s first Unesco City of Film, fashion-thirsty Leeds has cut the ribbon on an ambitious retail development at a time when malls elsewhere in the UK are stalling, a new state-of-the-art gallery in Wakefield is giving London a run for its money, and Yorkshire now has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other county outside London. In 2014, this welcoming region of rugged moorlands, heritage homes and cosy pubs will be able to hold its head even higher when the Tour de France begins its grand départ from Leeds.”
In a list of the top ten regions around the globe, Yorkshire was placed only below the hotly-tipped and up-and-coming mountainous area of Sikkim in India and the beautiful barren landscape of The Kimberley on the Western Australian coast.
‘God’s Own County’ pipped other exotic locations in the list, including the top locations in Japan, New Zealand and Spain, as well as some well-established, travel itinerary musts such as Victoria Falls in southern Africa and Texas, the second largest state in the USA.
Regions are selected based on the impressions of Lonely Planet contributors and their travels over the last year. Consideration is given to highlighting the most exciting up and coming regions of the world.
Tom Hall, a Lonely Planet contributor who studied History at the University of Leeds and has family in Ilkley, said: “I’m sure lots of people who read your newspaper don’t need telling that Yorkshire is a special place.
“It has a great mixture of history, shops and good cities, and a wealth of outstanding outdoor areas; the Yorkshire Dales National Park being chief among them as well as less highlighted places like Ilkley Moor.
“In terms of this year, the Tour de France gives Yorkshire something of a wow factor. It’s an unusual event and cycling is highly popular at the moment. Just having an event like that isn’t enough though, the place needs to have really fantastic credentials any time of the year and we feel Yorkshire has that.
“I talk to people all over the world about this book and it feels that Yorkshire is a very justified entry.”
He also pointed to the region’s thriving craft beer scene, The Hepworth art gallery in Wakefield and its friendly people as contributing towards Yorkshire being a fantastic all-rounder.
The praise is music to the ears of Welcome to Yorkshire, the region’s marketing board which spearheaded the successful Grand Depart bid.
Gary Verity, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “Endorsements rarely come much better than this, from a guide that has a worldwide reputation across tourism and informing visitors. This is massive for Yorkshire and our thousands of amazing tourism businesses, destinations and events.
“Welcome to Yorkshire has worked tirelessly with our partners since we launched in 2009 to put Yorkshire on the world map because we know how amazing and unique our county is. Seeing Yorkshire rank so highly in this guide is testament to the collective hard work that has been put in, not least in securing the Grand Départ of the Tour de France for Yorkshire next summer.”
The Hepworth is a recent success story, opening in May 2011, the gallery is close to welcoming its one millionth visitor.
One of the region’s most iconic and historic buildings is also featured in the new book, with York Minster listed among the top ten global “sights to make you feel small”.
Tom said: “I was in York Minster early this year. Your eyes are drawn up to the ceiling. It’s a classic ‘wow’ moment when you walk in there and it’s not surprising that it is on the must-stop list for most visitors to the UK.”