Why tourism is bringing in £365.7m to our economy

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Yorkshire’s tourism industry is booming and now valued at £8bn to the region’s economy.

The figure is 14 per cent, or £1bn, higher than when the last measure was taken, in 2011.

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The latest figures in Wakefield, from 2016, show that tourism is worth £365.7m to the district.

With the Hepworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield boasts three world class attractions.

The city is undergoing a renaissance of its food and drink, and nightlife, with modern bars and restaurants opening week on week.

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And more than 100,000 people came to see the city’s Food, Drink and Rhubarb Festival earlier this year.

Pontefract Racecourse and Pontefract Castle are among the town’s premier attractions while leisure complex Junction 32 continues to attract visitors from both sides of the M62.

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Since 2011, the Grand Depart of the Tour de France and the annual running of the Tour de Yorkshire races created in its wake have begun to establish the county as a cycling holiday destination.

And on the second day of this year’s event, Friday May 4, the route will come into the Wakefield district at South Elmsall before travelling through Ackworth and Pontefract and leaving at Castleford.

Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “Tourism is very important to the district’s economy.

“It was worth £345m to the local economy in 2014 and had risen to £365.7m in 2016.

“We are pleased that we have award winning attractions such as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Wakefield in our district.

“Council-run events, including the Food, Drink and Rhubarb Festival and Pontefract Liquorice Festival, also play an important role in bringing visitors and showcasing our district.

“We have worked closely with partners on the Key to the North project, which is due for completion this year to restore Pontefract Castle, and repair work is being carried out this year to maintain the monument at Sandal Castle, so that these historic places can be enjoyed for generations to come and contribute to the district’s excellent heritage offer.”

Elsewhere in West Yorkshire, the recently revamped Piece Hall in Halifax will host the depart for stage four of this year’s Tour de Yorkshire.

The tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire has also announced £1m to promote Yorkshire throughout Europe as a holiday destination for cyclists, with packaged holidays targeted particularly at travellers in Germany and Holland.

Research by Sheffield Hallam University, confirmed that in 2016, the last full year for which figures are available, tourists spent a total of £6.5bn in Yorkshire. The “supply chain effect” of tourism added a further £1.5bn.

Of the total, the county’s 4,800 hotels, guest houses and B&Bs shared a pot of £1.6bn, with day-trippers spending £4.3bn and overseas travellers £516m.

The researchers calculated that visitors from abroad stayed in the region 11 per cent longer than previously – but that by far the largest proportion of tourists had come from elsewhere in Yorkshire.

It was also reported that day-trips were up by eight per cent on previous measures – double the national average for England. The amount they spent also increased.

The Yorkshire attractions said to have seen the biggest growth included the nature reserves of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre, Halifax’s Eureka children’s museum, Barnsley’s Cannon Hall Farm and the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster.

Tourism in Yorkshire is estimated to support about 11 per cent of the county’s workforce – equivalent to 243,000 jobs.