York council set to pay £55K bailout to Welcome To Yorkshire

City of York Council is set to pay Welcome to Yorkshire more than £55,000 – despite admitting to a challenging relationship with the tourism body in recent years.

Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY) has asked councils across the region for £1.4 million in total to help them stay afloat.

Wakefield Council and Hull City Council have publicly refused to provide the extra funding. But a York council report says the body is believed to have received £1.16m of the £1.4m requested from local authorities, including the national parks.

Senior councillors will be asked to approve funding from York at a meeting on Thursday.

A report says: “Anecdotal feedback from York’s tourism sector suggest that, although the past relationship between Welcome to Yorkshire and Make It York has not always been mutually beneficial, there are significant benefits for commercial businesses being members of Welcome to Yorkshire, such as business support and to amplify marketing.”

It says that while the council’s tourism recovery plans are focused on immediate targets of increasing the amount of visitors to the city and how much money is spent in shops and attractions, WTY aims to help businesses adapt, promote Yorkshire as a safe destination and encourage people living within a two-hour drive of Yorkshire to visit.

Four Instagram stories

Tourists in York in March 2020. Photograph: YorkMix

If York signs up, the city will get at least 167 WTY social media posts and four Instagram story takeovers per year, as well as features including marketing campaigns, data breakdowns and event support, according to the service level agreement.

A council report compares WTY and Make It York’s tourism campaigns – showing that WTY reaches many more people.

Twenty per cent of jobs in York are in tourism. The sector brings £765 million and 24,000 jobs to York, according to Visit York.

The report says: “Welcome to Yorkshire’s issues are well documented.

“A change in board and leadership took place in January 2020, just prior to the pandemic, which has severely affected the tourist sector across the county.

“The organisation’s recovery plan… represents a significant changes in approach with the aim of recasting their relationship with local authorities.”

It warns that if councillors turn down the funding there will be a “greater risk of failure” at WTY and extra strain on Make It York – which has already requested a bailout from the council as a result of losses during the pandemic.

The report adds: “This would impact on tourism marketing for York, putting greater emphasis on Make It York as the city’s destination management organisation.

“In the current climate, having two organisations working at different levels on similar work spreads our risk as a city, and funding both organisations is a positive approach to risk management.”