Fast forward 12 months and now the tourism body is needed more than ever as the Covid-19 shutdown leaves this county’s visitor economy, worth £9bn a year, facing an existential crisis like no other.
Already the lockdown is taking its toll on B&B premises and tourism-related businesses – many of which do not qualify for the unprecedented schemes that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has, in fairness, put together to sustain the economy until the pandemic has passed.
But Mr Sunak will also appreciate, as the assiduous MP for Richmond, that tourism is the lifeblood of towns and villages across Yorkshire and that this industry genuinely feels neglected at this time.
As such, the change of emphasis at WTY is significant as it looks to restore its reputation after its own well-documented difficulties. Renowned for celebrating success, and staging major events, it has – finally – gone into campaign mode under James Mason, the new CEO, and local government veteran Peter Box, the agency’s chair.
Coalescing under the #YorkshireTogether hashtag on social media, it is looking to help all those grassroots businesses which – in many respects – underpin the tourism industry here because of the warmth of their welcome to visitors and their unheralded work as ambassadors for this county.
Taken for granted by WTY in the past, and now ignored by the organisation at its peril, they are counting on Welcome to Yorkshire to secure concessions from the Government on their behalf and then devising, and implementing, the most effective marketing campaign in its history so families and visitors feel compelled to holiday here when Yorkshire is able to reopen for business.
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