York aims for £1 billion tourism industry: here’s how it can be done

Visit York wants to bring in big bucks
Visit York wants to bring in big bucks

Visit York wants to bring in big bucks

Tourism in York will be worth £1 billion in ten years’ time, if the city meets an ambitious target unveiled today, January 23.

The one billion pound plan was unveiled by tourism agency Visit York and the city council at a conference at the railway museum. So how will it be achieved?

Tourism to grow by 125%

york-tourism-spend

Tourism has grown massively in the last three decades.
1987: 2.1 million visitors to York, spending £55 million.
Today: seven million visitors spending an estimated £443 million annually.
That’s an increase of 705 per cent in 26 years.
Turning a £443 million spend to a £1,000 million spend would entail a 125 per cent increase.

More overseas visitors

Photograph © zoetnet on flickr

Photograph © zoetnet on flickr

York wants to bring in more overseas visitors from North America, Europe and emerging markets like China. On average, an overseas visitor will spend 1.3 times more per night in Britain than a domestic staying visitor and they will stay 2.4 times longer than a UK visitor.

At present 15% of York’s visitors are from overseas – about a million people. The top three nations sending tourists our way are the US, Australia and Germany.

China is climbing the table but still only estimated to be tenth. In total there were 179,000 Chinese visitors to the whole of Britain in 2012.

Visit York is working to attract more tourists from China. It has produced a Shop & the City itinerary in simplified Mandarin and is planning more information and guides in Chinese.

More business visitors

Photograph: Paul Crossman  / visityork.org

Photograph: Paul Crossman / visityork.org

Another big spending market is business tourism. British business visitors spend 1.5 times more per night away British leisure visitors.

More off-peak visitors

Photograph © Allan Harris on flickr

Photograph © Allan Harris on flickr

Although the Daily Telegraph declared “There is no off-season in York”, tourism bosses want to boost visitor numbers at quieter times of the year. “Tackling seasonality will be high on the agenda, encouraging visitors in the off peak season,” Visit York says.

More culture

Blood + Chocolate. Photograph: Allan Harris on flickr

Blood + Chocolate. Photograph: Allan Harris on flickr

To keep visitors in York longer, the city needs to improve its “vibrant cultural offer” and promote it better. Expect more high profile events like Mallard 75 at the NRM, the Blood + Chocolate production and the Revealing York Minster exhibition.

Working together

Photograph: City of York Council

Photograph: City of York Council

“By encouraging all businesses to put York at the heart of what they do, together we will have a stronger presence in a global tourism market. Partnership working will be the key to our success,” said Jane Lady Gibson, chairman of Visit York.

Already talks are underway about creating a new, single agency for tourism. This would incorporate:

  • Visit York’s current work
  • the council’s arts and culture teams
  • city centre management, and
  • some inward investment.
  • Bringing in more overseas students is part of the strategy. There will be close collaboration with Science City York, the universities and cultural partnership York@Large.