'We have so much history': Plan to revive Wakefield's Covid-hit tourism industry approved

Detailed plans to help breathe new life into Wakefield's Covid-stricken tourism industry have been approved.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 12:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th March 2021, 12:30 pm
A view of Bretton Hall at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, one of the district's most popular attractions.

The launch of a new website, the publishing of an annual visitor guide and improved signage are all part of a scheme to boost the sector.

Local councillors have put a provisional £78,000 towards the programme, which also includes greater marketing of Wakefield on social media, though more investment is likely to follow.

The money had been originally put aside to contribute to struggling tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, chaired by former Wakefield Council leader Peter Box.

The Hepworth Gallery has had to make six employees redundant because of the pandemic.

But last September the council's Cabinet decided against handing the money over to WtY, suggesting that it could be better spent locally to promote the district.

A report on the tourism plan, which went before elected members on Tuesday, said that the Wakefield area, "Boasts a number of high quality visitor attractions, including the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, National Coal-mining Museum and the Hepworth Wakefield, which enjoy a national reputation and attract a large number of visitors annually, analysis shows that much of the wider district does not yet benefit from a national and international footfall, or perception from visitors."

Although tourism and visitor attraction supports around 9,000 jobs across the district, Covid has hit the industry severely.

Most tourism businesses employ fewer than 10 people and it was revealed last month that the city's flagship Hepworth Gallery had to had make redundancies.

Coun Margaret Isherwood said Wakefield hadn't sold itself enough as a place to visit.

Speaking at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Margaret Isherwood said: "I welcome this. I've long thought that we don't sell ourselves as a district.

"We've mentioned the Sculpture Park, but we have so much history in Wakefield, going all across the district.

"We never seem to sell ourselves to people out there as a destination people should come to. That should be an ambition we have."

The report also said that the council would still work with Welcome to Yorkshire on a number of issues, including on marketing.

Local Democracy Reporting Service