£10 million is pledged to boost tourism

TOURISM promoter Welcome to Yorkshire has been given a funding boost by a doomed regional development agency.

Yorkshire Forward, set to close in March 2012, has agreed to maintain Welcome to Yorkshire's funding at 10 million for the next year.

Welcome to Yorkshire is the official tourism agency for the region and works to develop the visitor economy.

Tourism in Yorkshire is worth 7 billion annually and it is estimated there are 216 million visits made to Yorkshire each year, creating employment for a quarter of a million people. Tourism is the third biggest economic sector in Yorkshire.

The 2011/12 investment means the continuation of marketing campaigns and the development of festivals and events, as well as support for thousands of tourism businesses.

Thea Stein, chief executive of Yorkshire Forward, said: "Yorkshire Forward and Welcome to Yorkshire have always shared the same objective.

"This is to continue the excellent work the organisation has carried out in supporting and developing the visitor economy – a vital component of the region's economic success.

"I am delighted that we have been able to work together in a very challenging funding environment to reach a solution which will achieve this objective in the coming year."

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "We are delighted to be entrusted with continuing the job of promoting Yorkshire and developing tourism.

"We have already seen the impact of investment in high profile marketing, both in terms of increased visitors to the county and in changing perceptions of Yorkshire as a place to visit, work or invest in.

"Visits to Yorkshire are up 22 per cent since Welcome to Yorkshire was launched.

"For every 1 invested by Yorkshire Forward in the industry it has delivered 40 back into the Yorkshire economy."

The demise of Yorkshire Forward, one of eight regional development agencies in England, was announced in June by the Government. It was set up in 1999 to boost economic development and regeneration in the region.

Yorkshire Forward has recently thrown a lifeline to Business Link Yorkshire to enable it to run until November 25 to continue helping start-up entrepreneurs. It was to have closed in March as part of government cutbacks.