Council leaders 'keeping open mind' as review ordered into Welcome to Yorkshire's future
The Yorkshire Leaders’ Board, made up of council leaders and chief executives along with metro mayors Dan Jarvis and Tracy Brabin, has commissioned a review that will report back in February and examine “options for the governance, finance and the future direction of tourism marketing for the region”.
Details of who will conduct the review and how much it will cost have not been made public.
The move could lead to the tourism agency - which is currently without a chief executive and has been through a series of reputational and financial crises in recent years - being brought under public sector control or potentially replaced with a new organisation.
It is currently a private company but receives millions in public sector funding from local councils.
A statement from the Leaders’ Board said: “Welcome to Yorkshire will continue to promote tourism in the region as the review is conducted.”
Co-Chair of Yorkshire Leaders Steve Houghton, who is Leader of Barnsley Council, said the board would be keeping an “open mind” on the best way forward for the future.
“Every district, borough and county in Yorkshire benefits from tourism,” he said.
“The industry, and the communities that rely on it, deserve our support.
“Yorkshire is an international brand that generates billions of pounds each year and showcases the very best of our region. There’s no question that our tourism industry needs a champion.
“I’d like to thank the board and staff at Welcome to Yorkshire who continue to play that vital role in promoting our region and bringing investment to local businesses and communities.
“But now is the time for us to think about how we develop the brand in the long term.
“We have an open mind about the outcome of the review. It’s important that we take this time to assess all the options and explore every opportunity available to us before we meet again in February to agree the way ahead.
"In the meantime, we will talk to the industry and local leaders so that we can give Yorkshire’s brilliant tourism industry the support it needs to grow for the long term.”
The review will come in parallel to Welcome to Yorkshire’s own consultation on its future.
The agency said it would aim to complete its own findings by February to coincide with the report ordered by the public sector and would present them to council leaders and mayors that month.
Peter Box, Chair of Welcome to Yorkshire and a former member of the Leaders' Board when he was leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We welcome the decision of the Yorkshire Leaders to conduct a fundamental review of how the region is marketed as a tourism destination, with all of the benefits it brings, and look forward to playing a full and active part in this process.
“The review will be complemented by our own consultation with Welcome to Yorkshire members, commercial and strategic partners, representatives from the tourism sector, local authority leaders, mayors and stakeholders.
“It is the Board’s intention to complete this consultation no later than February 2022 when the conclusions from the Yorkshire Leaders review are due to be reached. Full details will be announced at next month’s Board meeting.”
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