Senior officials from the tourism agency unveiled the new initiative involving a total of 11 ambassadors at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate yesterday.
The ambassadors, who have been drawn from a diverse range of background across Yorkshire, will support sectors in the wider economy to help with the region’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Led by, Philip Bolson, the owner of Mr B Hospitality and a former general manager of the Grand Hotel in York, the ambassadors will promote the region as a place to not only visit, but also to live, work and study.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, James Mason, admitted that the tourism organisation had faced significant challenges after his predecessor, SAir Gary Verity, resigned in 2019 amid allegations of bullying as well as mounting concerns over his expenses claims.
Mr Mason said: “The opportunity to make tourism in Yorkshire more inclusive is so important, we want as many people to enjoy the region as possible.
“We have had challenges and not everyone will agree with what Welcome to Yorkshire stands for, which in all honesty is their choice, but I would hope there can be some degree of unity for the benefit of the tourism industry.
“We have been seen financial challenges too, but I have always said that you should look to the expertise of people outside of your organisation to help, and that is exactly what we are doing with the ambassadors.”
Among the ambassadors is the Bradford-born television GP, Dr Amir Khan, who has appeared on show including Good Morning Britain, Lorraine and This Morning.
Dr Khan, who lives in Leeds and has his GP practice in Bradford, said: “I come from a working class background and I am from an ethnic minority, and I hope I can inspire people from similar backgrounds to embrace all that Yorkshire has to offer.”
Other ambassadors include Nicky Chance-Thompson, the chief executive officer at the Piece Hall Trust in Halifax, Richard Stubbs, the chief executive of the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network, and Abbi Ollive, the head of marketing and sales at Castle Howard.
Sharon Watson, the principal at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Paralympian Hannah Cockroft, Paul Vinsen, the hotel and tourism advisor at The Hull, Humber and East Yorkshire Hospitality Association, have also been recruited.
James Mackenzie, the head chef and owner of the Michelin starred restaurant, the Pipe And Glass Inn at South Dalton, near Beverley, Debbie Dobson, the director of sales at the Dakota Hotel in Leeds, and Fiona Gardham, a tourism consultant and owner of the award-winning bed and breakfast, The House at Hawes, have also been appointed as ambassadors.
In addition, Günther Peeters, who is based in Belgium, will act as a European Ambassador.
Tourism in Yorkshire is seen as one of the key foundations for rebuilding the economy, as the sector is worth £9bn each year and employs 225,000 workers in the region.