From: Lord Scriven of Hunters Bar, Lib Dem peer, House of Lords.
AS we enter the New Year then we enter the year when the decision has to be made – is Welcome to Yorkshire fit for purpose going forward, both in terms of its business model and financial stability, or is it time for a new body to lead our great tourism offer in our wonderful county?
I fear the first interviews with both the new chief executive and chair look more like saving Welcome to Yorkshire at all costs, not what is the best way forward to promote our tourism industry in Yorkshire.
The news that Welcome to Yorkshire won’t be able to pay back the £500,000 loan it took from the taxpayers of North Yorkshire in the allotted time shows that it is still a private company that isn’t able to meet all its liabilities and be a going concern. My fear is that the focus of the board and senior executives over the foreseeable future will be the balance sheet of Welcome to Yorkshire, not how best to support and promote tourism.
The new chief executive has indicted that sadly people will have to be made redundant and that will mean Welcome to Yorkshire doing less to promote tourism.
The key questions is what will go? I fear that when organisations are in survival mode they get rid of the biggest overheads and not the strategic things that are no longer fit for purpose. As Susan Briggs indicated in this newspaper, the business model needs to change and that should lead what is cut or money redirected too. That takes time and as Welcome to Yorkshire has little to no money to survive then it will cut to survive, not thrive in the long term.
I think the region needs to refocus our question when it comes to promoting and supporting tourism. It should be what is going to work best for Yorkshire tourism to thrive and grow, not what is the best way to save a private company called Welcome to Yorkshire. Until that shift of thinking by council leaders takes place, then we they are answering the wrong question and could be putting money into the wrong organisation.