Yorkshire's global reach

TO ALL who have the good fortune to live in Yorkshire, the county's charms are hardly a big secret. On the contrary, they are so abundantly clear that it might be thought that marketing Yorkshire to the wider world was hardly much of a job at all.

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. So great is the potential for tourism to generate income, and so intense the competition from holiday venues the world over, that Yorkshire now has to shout ever louder for its voice to be heard on the global stage.

Fortunately, in the shape of Welcome to Yorkshire, the county has the perfect megaphone. The evidence is in the figures: in the past 18 months, visitor numbers have risen by 22 per cent, compared with 12 per cent for the rest of the UK.

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Considering that this increase has come during a recession, it is surely no coincidence that it has also occurred at a time of vigorous campaigning by Welcome to Yorkshire, campaigning that has now gained worldwide recognition.

In taking the award for World's Leading Marketing Campaign in the prestigious World Travel Awards, Welcome to Yorkshire has demonstrated its effectiveness at precisely the right time.

For the stark facts are that tourism in Yorkshire employs a quarter-of-a-million people and is worth 6.5bn-a-year. And with Welcome to Yorkshire playing a crucial role in boosting these figures, there is a clear need for the organisation to be maintained as an example of public-sector money actively working to promote private-sector growth.

At a time when the Government is rightly taking the axe to those organisations showing little return on their investment, this has to be remembered.

Welcome to Yorkshire's worldwide marketing reach has been achieved, after all, following a funding deal set up with Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency which is shortly to be abolished.

Yet a distinction must be drawn between those organisations that waste taxpayers' cash and those which use it to bring in more money and create jobs. And what can be shown beyond argument is that, in any such hard-headed analysis, Welcome to Yorkshire more than proves its worth.