A RECOVERY plan to reopen, recover and rebuild the county’s £9billion tourism industry has been launched by tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire.

The organisation says it accepted the challenge at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to stand up for thousands of tourism-related businesses and ‘retain a vital part of the region’s identity now and for the foreseeable future’.

Working with the county’s local authorities, national parks, LEPs, many businesses and tourism representatives, the aim has been to preserve the county’s much-loved attractions, locations and businesses whilst keeping interest high in Yorkshire as a visitor destination.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive James Mason said: “The team has worked really hard to keep Yorkshire at the forefront of everyone’s minds. We were challenged to make a case for the region’s tourism offer and it was one we took on gladly.

“We are all very passionate about our county that has suffered the effects of flooding in recent years and now this life-changing virus. Our recovery document has been created with short-term, midterm and long-term objectives to reflect the ever-changing times we are experiencing.

“It must be understood that we will continue to take an organic approach to the situation and have held regular webinars offering up to date practical advice. We are working together with public and private sector strategic partners to ensure that the best possible guidance and support is available to the industry. We are very much looking forward to gradually ‘Welcoming visitors back to Yorkshire’ when the time is right.

“This has to start with people on our doorsteps, then nationally and eventually internationally. We must bang the big drum to make sure people stop and think ‘We have to visit Yorkshire’. We must also strive to support communities within the county to make sure their offer is attractive to new audiences with continual product development to encourage repeat visitors.”

Some of the key campaigns the recovery plan will focus on include:

A revised business membership with an entry level service offering free support and resources for anyone to sign up to.

The launch of a Yorkshire Gift Card to encourage spend within the county.

A focused regional support service for North, South, East and West Yorkshire.

A nationwide marketing campaign to Welcome visitors Back to Yorkshire.

The launch of a personal membership model to tap in to the millions of Yorkshire connections worldwide.

A recovery task group will be formed to ensure delivery of the recovery plan.

The Yorkshire tourism sector employs almost 225,000 people with many more in supply chain businesses. Financial losses as a result of coronavirus are expected to be well into the billions of pounds and Welcome to Yorkshire has written to central government on behalf of many small businesses such as B&B owners and hospitality providers.

It has had considerable success in promoting and raising the profile of Yorkshire over the last decade reaching over 23 million globally and a social reach of almost 20 million.