Hundreds of Yorkshire businesses could fold, warns tourism chief

Empty streets and beaches in the normally-bustling tourist resort of Scarborough. Picture: Tony Johnson.Empty streets and beaches in the normally-bustling tourist resort of Scarborough. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Empty streets and beaches in the normally-bustling tourist resort of Scarborough. Picture: Tony Johnson. | jpimedia
Hundreds of tourism companies in Yorkshire could go to the wall as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive has warned.

James Mason said the tourism agency has already been made aware of dozens of firms that have already gone out of business and expects the situation to worsen.

“We have a couple of thousand members. Some have told us they won’t be able to continue and are going out of business,” he said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Businesses are having to give in because it is one thing trying to reduce your costs but if income stops, you can’t continue. I’m expecting hundreds if not thousands to end up in this position across the county and many more nationally.

“We are aware of dozens going out of business and the numbers are increasing on a daily basis. The figures may be even higher because obviously not every tourism business in Yorkshire is part of Welcome to Yorkshire.”

Read More
Thousands of small B&Bs fear ruin after missing out on Government grant scheme

“Anyone that relies on footfall or contact with people are the most at risk of going out of business.”

Welcome to Yorkshire has been lobbying Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week on behalf of B&Bs who fear they will be unable to survive as a result of missing out on a Government grant scheme because they pay council tax instead of business rates – an issue believed to affect hundreds of B&Bs in Yorkshire and up to 10,000 across the country.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Mason said the tourism agency is adjusting its role in response to the pandemic.

“I’m conscious that Welcome to Yorkshire has been fantastic at celebrating everything great about Yorkshire and what we could do in the good times. Now the challenge is how we can provide a valuable service in times of real difficulty.”

Among the changes have been the suspension of membership fees for three months, the company’s website offering detailed and regularly updated support on the different Government funding routes being made available to tourism businesses and the launch of a #YorkshireTogether campaign.

A recent ‘World Cup of Yorkshire’ competition on Twitter to find Yorkshire’s most popular attraction – won by Halifax’s Piece Hall – was viewed one million times and attracted 33,000 votes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There are plans to run similar light-hearted votes on a regular basis in the coming weeks to try to maintain the county’s profile and win back visitors when the coronavirus crisis is over.

“We have to make sure that Yorkshire and all our great visitor attractions are at the forefront of people’s minds as a place to come to when this is over,” Mr Mason said. “Yorkshire has the best of the UK in a county – coastlines, national parks and great cities. Our vastness and broad appeal is what makes us unique and we have to get that across.”

Tourism agency furloughs third of staff

Welcome to Yorkshire has furloughed one-third of its staff as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Mason said 13 members of the agency’s 34 staff have been furloughed as part of efforts to secure the future of the company, which is part-funded by local councils and has been under major financial pressure prior to the outbreak after struggling to recovery its reputation following the resignation of previous chief executive Sir Gary Verity last March.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“When I joined we had 48 staff but that has been reduced to 34 through cost-saving measures and people leaving for other opportunities. We have now furloughed 13 people.

“While it was a difficult decision, I appreciate the Government offering this scheme as by doing this it means it will be a short term leave of absence.

“If I took on a challenge 10 weeks ago, that has just ramped up and become even more difficult for obvious reasons. But I’m confident we will be able to demonstrate just how important we will be going forward. I’m very thankful to chairman Peter Box and the board – they have backed our strategy.”

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson


Related topics: