Troubled Welcome to Yorkshire dropped from £2m marketing campaign - as it loses £300,000 Yorkshire Bank sponsorship

Welcome to Yorkshire will not be involved in an ongoing marketing campaign for the North York Moors this year because of concerns about their financial position. Picture: Gary Longbottom
Welcome to Yorkshire will not be involved in an ongoing marketing campaign for the North York Moors this year because of concerns about their financial position. Picture: Gary Longbottom
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Welcome to Yorkshire has been axed from a £2m marketing campaign for the North York Moors over concerns about its financial stability – while a separate £300,000 sponsorship agreement with Yorkshire Bank has been ended in another blow to the troubled tourism agency.

The North York Moors National Park Authority has confirmed today it “will be finding other means” of delivering the marketing campaign after warning last week it had not received satisfactory reassurances about WTY’s financial position.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity and Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme in 2018 visiting the New Wortley Bike Library - a scheme supported by Yorkshire Bank as part of its Tour De Yorkshire sponsorship.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity and Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme in 2018 visiting the New Wortley Bike Library - a scheme supported by Yorkshire Bank as part of its Tour De Yorkshire sponsorship.

Leak reveals Welcome to Yorkshire would have run out of money last month without £500,000 taxpayer loan
The 10-year promotional campaign, worth £210,000 each year, started in 2017 and is funded by money from Sirius Minerals. The company is constructing a giant potash mine near Whitby and is making the payments under what is known as a Section 106 agreement where developers make financial contributions towards communities affected by their projects.

To date, the funding has been given by the National Park Authority to WTY to deliver an ‘Alive With Adventure’ marketing campaign involving cinema, radio, print and digital adverts to help mitigate the effects of the mine construction work on tourism in the area.

The National Park Authority said last week it had not received up-to-date information about WTY’s cashflow position and as a result had not yet transferred this year’s funds.

A spokesman from the North York Moors National Park Authority said today a final decision had now been taken that Welcome to Yorkshire would not be involved with the campaign this year.

“For 2019/20 we will be finding other means of delivering the required programme,” he said. “Our decision should have no net overall impact on Welcome to Yorkshire’s finances.”

A report into Welcome to Yorkshire’s precarious financial position conducted by a Local Government Association representative and an independent financial adviser in August listed the North York Moors marketing campaign as one of three “essential” income sources for Welcome to Yorkshire to remain a going concern and warned that if the different payments were not secured, WTY would “run out of cash by November at the latest”.

The other two listed sources – a £500,000 loan from North Yorkshire County Council and an additional £1m from a business rates pool administered by council leaders from West and North Yorkshire – have been secured in recent weeks.

WTY said today that the value of its involvement with delivering the campaign only had a value of £20,000 per year to the company, with the rest of the money spent on delivering the marketing work. A spokeswoman said that as a result the company will not be going overdrawn now the £1.5m of other funding from the council loan and the business rates pool had been secured.

Separately, The Yorkshire Post can reveal that a £300,000 sponsorship agreement with Yorkshire Bank linked to the annual Tour de Yorkshire cycling race has come to an end after five years as a result of the bank’s merger with Virgin Money which is seeing the former’s branches disappearing from the high street.

A leaked and fully-unredacted version of the independent financial report into WTY from August and now seen by The Yorkshire Post had revealed Yorkshire Bank’s £300,000 sponsorship was “uncertain” and a spokeswoman for CYBG, the group which owns the Yorkshire Bank brand, confirmed today it had recently informed WTY the partnership was over.

A spokeswoman said: “We have been proud to sponsor the Tour de Yorkshire since 2015. As you’d expect we regularly review our commercial partnerships to ensure they remain a good fit for our business and this is especially true since entering a new chapter with Virgin Money. After five successful years of supporting the Tour, we felt the partnership had reached its natural conclusion and advised Welcome to Yorkshire we wouldn’t be renewing our annual sponsorship. We are very proud of everything which has been achieved and wish the team at Welcome to Yorkshire all the best for the next stage of the Tour de Yorkshire journey.”

A WTY spokeswoman said: “Yorkshire Bank’s merger with Virgin Money has meant our partnership has reached a natural conclusion and we’re in discussions with several parties regarding future sponsorship opportunities.”

Tourist agency 'can emerge stronger'

Welcome to Yorkshire can emerge from the turbulent last few months in a “stronger” position, the company has pledged in a message to members, sponsors and local taxpayers.

A WTY spokeswoman said: “The new chair Peter Box said on his first day in the role that WTY is open for business and that it’s continuing to market the best brand in tourism: Yorkshire.

“He went on to say that the organisation is full of dedicated and creative frontline staff who are getting on with the job, despite a turbulent few months. With better governance, financial and strategic planning, WTY will become a stronger, more open and accountable organisation that delivers world-beating marketing for a great county.”

Coun Box said last week: “I believe we can succeed in rejuvenating Welcome to Yorkshire and capitalise on our greatest assets: the people of Yorkshire, our stunning countryside and coastlines, our towns, cities and dales.

“A vibrant county as diversely rich and creative as ours deserves an organisation that holds the confidence and trust of its board, staff, customers and stakeholders close to its heart.”