The head of Visit York, Paul Whiting, has left the role by ‘mutual consent’, his boss said today (Wednesday).
The news has dismayed business leaders in the city who expressed their concern about losing one of the city’s key tourism experts at a time when the sector is facing its biggest ever challenge.
Paul, who has been in the role for just under two years, went public about the news on social media yesterday.
He said: “Some news – as of last week I no longer work for Make It York. It has been my privilege to promote the city and to lead such a talented team.
“I don’t know exactly what the future will hold but I’m excited about the next adventure.”
‘Wish him the best’
Paul’s boss, head of Make It York Sean Bullick, told YorkMix today: “Paul Whiting left Make It York last week by mutual agreement, and we wish him all the best for the future.
“Helen Apsey, who has first rate experience of business marketing and communications nationally and internationally will now take over the role on a permanent basis.
“She will continue to be supported on the leisure side by a communications and marketing team who know the travel trade, and tourism industry more widely, inside out.”
Make It York has undergone something of an upheaval in the last year. Four senior staff, including then head of business Andrew Sharp, head of Science City York Heather Niven, and head of PR and corporate communications Kay Hyde, were let go last June.
In March Helen Apsey joined as head of culture & wellbeing and Russell McCartney was appointed head of commercial & revenue generation.
Helen was previously head of policy and impact at Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s largest independent music therapy charity.
YorkMix understands Make It York’s decision to furlough some existing senior staff, while keeping the newer appointments in their jobs, has caused tensions within the organisation.
Paul, who was previously the award-winning marketing manager at the York Archaeological Trust – which runs Jorvik Viking Centre among other attractions – was among the furloughed staff.
York Retail Forum chair Phil Pinder said: “It was sad to hear Paul was placed on furlough at a time that marketing the city should be a priority for Visit York.
“It’s now even more unfortunate that he has had to take this decision, though I understand why he has done this.”