Tourism businesses in North Yorkshire are being asked to help shape a new strategy to promote the industry and attract more visitors to the county’s world-famous landscapes and attractions.
A series of events are being held this month to gather information and views from those involved in the tourism sector to develop the first countywide destination management plan.
North Yorkshire Council is coordinating the new strategy, which will be aimed at boosting the multi-million pound tourism industry and supporting tens of thousands of workers who are employed in the sector, while also attracting a wider and more diverse range of visitors to the county.
The council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les, said: “The opportunity to develop the first county-wide plan to promote tourism is a major milestone for North Yorkshire.
“The views of businesses and organisations involved in tourism will be key to developing the strategy and the future of the industry as a whole.
“We have such a breadth of tourism businesses and attractions which we can be rightly proud of, but we want to ensure that the sector can grow and flourish in the future and help support the region’s wider economy.”
Invitations have been sent out to tourism businesses for the workshops, which are free and will be staged both in person and online.
Attendees will be asked about their priorities and aspirations for the tourism industry as well as the strengths, opportunities and challenges being faced by North Yorkshire’s visitor economy.
Sessions will be held on Wednesday, May 17, at The Old Deanery in Ripon between 11am and 1pm, and then later the same day at Skipton Castle from 3pm until 5pm.
A third in-person event will be held at Scarborough Rugby Club on Thursday, May 18, between 11am and 1pm, followed by two online sessions from 5.30pm to 7pm on Tuesday, May 23, and then from noon until 1.30pm on Thursday, May 25.
A survey of North Yorkshire’s visitor economy is also being conducted to allow a greater understanding of the views of industry.
The questionnaire will focus on accommodation, attractions and experiences, food and drink, festivals and events, as well as heritage and culture, landscape and countryside, towns and villages, access and transportation and visitor services.
The draft destination management plan is due to be finalised by the end of June, before being presented to councillors the following month.
A bid is then due to be submitted to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in September for North Yorkshire to be home to a Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP), which will involve both the private and public sectors and will need to follow a new national process to be eligible for support and potential funding from the Government.
Tourism in North Yorkshire is worth £1.5 billion a year in the spend from domestic visitors. It accounts for 11 per cent of the county’s overall economy, and 41,200 workers are employed in the sector.
North Yorkshire already has an enviable reputation for its visitor economy due to a wide range of cultural attractions from historic stately homes to centuries-old castles and ancient monuments.
The county is home to two National Parks for the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors, as well as Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, which is one of only two World Heritage Sites in Yorkshire.
North Yorkshire also has stately homes, including Castle Howard, Kiplin Hall and Newby Hall, as well as 23 English Heritage sites, including Whitby Abbey, Richmond Castle and Rievaulx Abbey, along with the recently acquired Thornborough Henges.
The county also has a wealth of famous food and drink producers responsible for brands including Bettys Café Tea Rooms, Wensleydale Cheese, Harrogate Spring Water and Yorkshire Tea. The market town of Malton has emerged as an epicentre for the food and drink sector and lays claim to being the food capital of Yorkshire with regular markets showcasing local produce.
Attendance at the workshops is free of charge, and invited guests can find out more information and confirm attendance at www.eventbrite.com/cc/north-yorkshire-destination-management-plan-2137459 online.
The questionnaire on North Yorkshire’s visitor economy is available at https://cvent.me/YB2V7D, and will take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.