Destination Harrogate future unclear as council set to bid for tourism body
Last updated Aug 4, 2023
Destination Harrogate led campaigns which included bringing a Helter Skelter to Harrogate.
Destination Harrogate led campaigns which included bringing a Helter Skelter to Harrogate.

The future of a Harrogate tourism body remains unclear as North Yorkshire Council reveals plans to create a new organisation to attract visitors to the county.

Destination Harrogate, which is the destination management organisation for the region, was set up by Harrogate Borough Council.

However, North Yorkshire Council is set to table a bid to government in September for a local visitor economy partnership — which will replace destination management organisations following a review by ministers.

The new body would be responsible for promoting tourism in North Yorkshire and attracting events.

The council has also published a 88-page tourism strategy for the county, which includes aims to grow the tourist economy.

The Stray Ferret asked North Yorkshire Council whether the move would mean that Destination Harrogate is scrapped as a result of the single tourism strategy.

In response, David Caulfield, the council’s assistant director for tourism, said:

“The new destination management plan will bring together all areas of North Yorkshire to provide a single strategy for the council and key partners to support the strong tourism offer within the county to flourish further and offer even greater value to the local economy.

“This will put North Yorkshire in an excellent position in its application to become a local visitor economy partnership.

“All the tourism teams previously within the former district and borough areas, including Destination Harrogate staff, have been brought together as one North Yorkshire tourism team to support the development of the strategy and ensure the strong local brands are represented.

“Given Harrogate’s well-defined tourist offer, we expect the area to be an integral part of the overall framework.

“Harrogate has been identified as among the strongest brands within North Yorkshire along with the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales and the coast.”

Questions over future

Questions were raised over Destination Harrogate’s future ahead of the establishment of North Yorkshire Council in April.

At a Harrogate Borough Council meeting in February, Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said a government review into destination management organisations would likely mean only such bodies from cities or large regions will be able to receive funding from central government.

She suggested Harrogate would have to amalgamate into a wider, yet-to-be created North Yorkshire destination management organisation to qualify for the funding.

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Meanwhile, borough council chief executive Wallace Sampson told councillors the new authority could look to “identify savings” with Destination Harrogate after it is handed control of the organisation.

He added:

“[Destination Harrogate] is a discretionary service and against the background of a challenging financial environment for the new council, every discretionary service will be subject to financial scrutiny.”

Mr Sampson warned of the possible pitfalls of Destination Harrogate being merged into a county-wide tourism body, which he suggested could dilute the focus on individual places.