Tourists from other countries may not be returning to York any time soon a tourism body meeting has heard.
And a marketing campaign to attract British visitors to the city will be launched to try to boost tourism after the lockdown.
Confidence will be key to making visitors feel safe – and businesses and attractions could be asked to apply for a quality mark to prove they meet government standards.
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, told a Welcome to Yorkshire virtual meeting that the region is unlikely to welcome visitors from North America or China any time soon.
He said: “None of the European major carriers are anticipating that they’re going to get to anywhere near normal capacity on their long-haul routes for a very considerable period of time and that, for our higher value visitors, I think is a significant issue.”
The US is York’s top overseas market – making up 17 per cent of visitors – while the city has seen increasing numbers of Chinese visitors in recent years and tourists from China make up 14 per cent of overseas visitors.
The meeting heard that measures to inspire confidence in visitors could include hand washing stations, limiting the number of people allowed inside shops and one way roads.
Phil Pinder, chair of York Retail Forum, has already suggested the city’s narrow streets could be made one-way.
He praised the tourist body’s approach to boosting domestic tourism, saying: “It’s great to hear Welcome To Yorkshire are focused on getting our regional tourism economy up and running in the short to medium term before international visits return.”
Inspiring post-lockdown visits
Sean Bullick, managing director of Make It York, said the organisation is looking at monitoring crowd flow in Shambles Market and putting up new signs.
He added: “A new marketing campaign which aims to promote the unique experiences on offer in the city will also be launched in the summer, which provides inspiration for visits post-lockdown.
“The campaign will appeal to both residents and visitors as we plan to work alongside our tourism businesses to showcase the fantastic experiences available and keep York front of mind as a world-class destination.”
He said practical safety measures needed to be implemented to help create consumer confidence and get the city’s tourism industry moving again.
“It is of paramount importance that visitors and residents know that they can return to York safely once the lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“We are working on plans to introduce measures which will aid with social distancing – including exploring how we monitor crowd flow in Shambles market, the introduction of new signage, and commitment to observe all government guidelines as and when they are issued.”
He added: “An integral part of recovery planning for the city is working together with local businesses to understand key concerns and opportunities for growth as we move forward.”
Make It York, York BID, City of York Council, the Federation of Small Businesses, York & North Yorkshire Chamber Of Commerce and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership are planning two virtual roundtable sessions for York’s tourism businesses.
This would enable then to share sector specific intelligence and challenges.