Bid begins to create new North Yorkshire tourism body
Last updated Mar 3, 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 incoming North Yorkshire Council is to bid to government for accreditation to create a new countywide tourism body.

The authority intends to apply to become 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.

David Caulfield, assistant director for tourism and economic development at North Yorkshire Council, said the new organisation would also help to form a “Yorkshire-wide” tourism strategy.

He said:

“There may be four, or five, of these which eventually form a Yorkshire-wide approach. These LVEPs must be strong private/public sector partnerships and will need to follow the new national process to be eligible for any government funding.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us in North Yorkshire to play to our strengths, while maintaining a strong regional identity at the same time. It will also be one of the key aspects of the new council’s economic strategy.

“All of the current destination management organisations across North Yorkshire are already working closely on this project, pooling their knowledge and expertise to ensure we have the strongest possible proposal.”

The council intends to hire consultants at a cost of £20,000 to help support the bid.

Mr Caulfield said this would form a “small part” of the bid, with the majority of the work being carried out in-house.

Questions over Destination Harrogate

The move towards creating a county-wide tourism organisation raises further questions about the future of Destination Harrogate, the current Destination Management Organisation tourism organisation for the district run by Harrogate Borough Council, which is being abolished in four weeks.

Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, told a council meeting last month the government review would likely mean only destination management organisations from cities or large regions will be able to receive funding from central government.

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

The Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed last month that Harrogate Borough Council spent £2,224,000 on Destination Harrogate in its first year operating — almost a million pounds more than budgeted.

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.

He said:

“From a Harrogate point of view we have Destination Harrogate that has a really strong focus on place branding and marketing and that helps to attract visitors. 

“The key question will be — can you retain the focus on individual places in North Yorkshire?  It’s something the new council will have to grapple with.”