Yorkshire warned of hard job to tempt tourists

The Tour de France attracted thousands to Yorkshire last summerThe Tour de France attracted thousands to Yorkshire last summer
The Tour de France attracted thousands to Yorkshire last summer
THE task facing Yorkshire’s tourism industry is revealed today as one of the most influential tourist organisations tells MPs to think carefully about shifting visitors out of London as the capital is “ingrained and reinforced almost everywhere”.

Industry body British Destinations has told MPs looking at how to support regional tourism that trying to convince foreign visitors to see more than just London could backfire if the marketing money comes at the cost of existing domestic tourism budgets.

Making a clear distinction between the two, British Destinations said that for many global visitors, “London, Paris, Berlin is currently a far more likely tour itinerary or subsequent holiday wish list than say London and any combination of British towns and cities.”

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And while domestic tourists are happy to see the delights of Yorkshire and elsewhere in the UK, a cash strapped Department for Culture Media and Sport must not waste money by splitting the pot to try and create an international market that is not there, the group said.

In evidence to MPs on the culture select committee, British Destinations said London is “ingrained and reinforced almost everywhere. Bond never visits M in Norwich, international fashion houses don’t proclaim themselves to be of Birmingham, New York and Paris, nor do nervous international businessmen flick to the business pages to see how the Sheffield stock exchange is doing.

Such is the extent of London’s dominance that, the group warns, it would “naive to assume that London’s tourist businesses and London’s promotional agencies will willingly embrace any dispersal marketing efforts”

“There are of course a significant number of “other places” in the UK that get relatively few tourists of any kind, but that is because they are not established destinations, never have been and probably never should be,” MPs are told.

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The group adds that efforts aimed at moving foreign visitors around must be backed by new public funding and not at the expense of support to domestic tourism.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said that after an historic year for Yorkshire it was clear the region is “a growing global destination that the world is quickly waking up to.”

He added: “The county was beamed in all its glory to 190 different countries in July thanks to the Tour de France and 2014 has been the strongest first half of year for international tourism since 2008.

“Many international visitors use London as a base and a two-hour train journey – roughly the time it takes to get to Yorkshire from the capital – is considered a small amount of time by international travellers’ standards.

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“Given Yorkshire’s abundance of historic monuments, stately homes, diverse culture and outstandingly beautiful open countryside, it’s a tempting offer by anyone’s standards and very much within reach of those in the South.”

Comment: Page 10.