Staffing at Destination Harrogate to be reviewed, says council tourism boss
Last updated Feb 4, 2024
Photo of Harrogate town centre, showing Bettys and Cambridge Crescent.

Staffing at the Harrogate district’s tourism body is to be reviewed this year as it continues the process of being absorbed into a new county-wide structure. 

Destination Harrogate was set up by Harrogate Borough Council and transferred to North Yorkshire Council on April 1 last year. So far, all employees have kept their jobs and are still working from Harrogate. 

Gemma Rio, head of tourism for North Yorkshire Council, told the Stray Ferret: 

“The Destination Harrogate team still exists, the Visit Harrogate website still exists – that’s all still operating – but we’re all working towards this new North Yorkshire service. 

“So in the next couple of months, we will be reviewing staffing and how people fit into that North Yorkshire model, but at the minute everyone’s still there, they’re all still doing their Destination Harrogate jobs while also supporting in the development of our Visit North Yorkshire approach.” 

North Yorkshire Council is now joining with City of York Council to create a new Local Visitor Economy Partnership for York and North Yorkshire.

The details of how it will operate are still being decided, but Ms Rio said that promoting the Harrogate district would be an important part of its remit. 

She said:

Harrogate is one of the largest visitor destinations within North Yorkshire and as such it will continue to be a key focus of the North Yorkshire tourism team.

“By working together as North Yorkshire, and also with York through our Local Visitor Economy Partnership, we are now in a much greater position to gain support from Visit England and take a more strategic approach to tackling some of the challenges faced by the visitor economy. This is something Harrogate wouldn’t have been able to achieve on its own.”

She said the council planned to take three approaches to marketing tourism in the county. One would be thematic, covering campaigns based on things that can be promoted across North Yorkshire, such as food and drink, or outdoor activities. 

Another would consist of seasonal content, such as campaigns at Christmas or during the summer. 

The third would be place-based activity, which Ms Rio said would be the most important approach of the three. 

That may reassure some in the district who had feared the district could lose prominence within a broader regional structure.

Before Harrogate Borough Council was wound up last year, its chief executive, Wallace Sampson, warned that merging Destination Harrogate into a county-wide tourism body could dilute the focus on individual places. 

But Ms Rio said: 

“We will always prioritise place, because we recognise some of the place brands in North Yorkshire have significant profile on their own – Harrogate, the Yorkshire coast, the National Parks – so why wouldn’t we continue to use those individual places to elevate the whole of North Yorkshire and then help provide support for some of those lesser known areas as well?”

More than 60,000 people are employed in the tourism sector in York and North Yorkshire, which is worth more than £3.2 billion a year.

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