TOURISM marketing body Welcome to Yorkshire has unveiled a series of initiatives aimed at helping to rejuvenate the region as it emerges from lockdown.

Measures were outlined during a hugely-successful two-day virtual conference.

Next month, a Tour de Walkshire will be held in place of the annual international cycle race – which has been postponed until 2022 due to the pandemic.

As part of the venture people are being encouraged to walk, run, cycle or push throughout the month and raise money for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Welcome to Yorkshire is also launching an app – to help visitors to the region – and a podcast and is looking to further expand its social media activity, which already has a global reach of over 23 million.

An ‘Accessible Yorkshire’ membership hub is being set-up, which will work to improve accessibility to all across the county.

And this summer, no fewer than nine prestigious national and international golf events will be held – both amateur and professional. The programme follows on from the successful Ian Woosnam Senior Classic tournament held at Ilkley last September.

“Golf is a big hit and a great visitor ‘attraction’ with brilliant benefits to the county,” said a Welcome to Yorkshire spokesman.

“The economic value of golf in the UK is £4.2bn, with 81 per cent coming from domestic tourism – that’s £628m.

“There are four million golfers in the UK and a golf tourist spends on average £359 per visit, which all goes into the local economy.”

The organisation is also looking forward to next year, when a campaign will celebrate the county’s food and drink scene – from Michelin-starred restaurants to street food.

As well as spotlighting Welcome to Yorkshire’s plans, the conference – Y21 – also featured an array of high-profile speakers.

Among them were Patricia Yates, strategy and communications director of VisitBritain, and Richard Flint, former chief executive of Sky Bet.

People could take part in ‘webinars’ and master-classes designed to support businesses across the hospitality, travel and tourism sectors as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive officer, James Mason, said: “It was an amazing couple of days celebrating the county’s tourism industry and working with incredibly influential individuals across the sector to amplify the key points to help businesses get back up and running as they reopen, recover and rebuild.

“We should remember that tourism pre-pandemic in Yorkshire was worth a staggering £9bn to the economy and employed almost 225,000 people.

“And if the north of England was a country, it would be the 21st largest economy in the world.

“The enthusiasm from everyone at Y21 and across the county to work together to successfully emerge, promote and support tourism going forward is something to strive for and be proud of.”

He thanks all those involved in Y21, including the region’s four local enterprise partnerships.

James Mackenzie, director of strategic delivery at Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Under the theme ‘reopen, recover, rebuild’ – with a focus on innovation and diversity across the tourism industry – Y21 was guided by Welcome to Yorkshire’s strategy to promote the county as a place to visit, live, work and study.

“The inspiring line-up of presenters and opportunities shared at Y21 has paved the way to bridge cutting-edge research and technology.

“With innovative business practice and thinking, this presents a contemporary understanding of Yorkshire’s future in tourism and hospitality.”