Talks held on the future of Welcome to Yorkshire

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“Options remain on the table” for Welcome to Yorkshire’s (WTY) future, following an Extraordinary Board Meeting.

Board members met to discuss a way ahead for the destination marketing organisation, following the serious challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

WTY has recently warned that it could be forced to close its doors if local authorities can’t guarantee an additional £1.4m.

It recently lost £1m of business rates funding from North and West Yorkshire, in addition to the loss of £400,000 due to it suspending membership fees.

The Board discussed offers of financial support from local authorities across the region but says it needs further discussions with councils before a definitive option can be pursued.

WTY has said it aims to put tourism at the heart of the region’s economic recovery as lockdown eases and the hospitality industry is due to begin reopening in July.

Chair of WTY, Peter Box, said: “There’s more work to do before we can agree a way ahead. We will continue to talk to council leaders about financial support and the options that flow from that.

The response we’ve had from leaders over the past few weeks has been encouraging and we were able to have a constructive discussion at the Extraordinary Board Meeting. We will have further talks before we plot a way forward.

“I’m grateful for the support we’ve already had from council leaders, and others, across Yorkshire.

“If we are going to deliver a successful economic and social recovery from the pandemic, tourism will have to play a crucial role in that.

“Without a thriving tourism industry, there won’t be the kind of recovery we all want to see in Yorkshire.”

The Board meeting was held in private, but WTY has stressed it is committed to transparency, noting that its Board meetings on 22 January and 21 February were open to the public.

In a statement released shortly after the meeting in private, the organisation explained: “The decision to hold today’s extraordinary meeting in private was based on the nature of matters discussed, such as the options for the future of Welcome to Yorkshire.

“We did not feel this was something that could be held in public as we have a duty to inform the staff, paying members and other partners first.”