Le Tour bid-winning agency set to take on vital tourism functions from scrapped investment firm

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. Picture by James Hardisty.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. Picture by James Hardisty.

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Tour de France bid-winning tourism firm Welcome to Yorkshire is being lined up by Leeds City Council to attract visitors to Leeds City Region as a whole.

The move could see the agency, led by chief executive Gary Verity, commissioned in the “medium term” to take over some of the tourism-related functions of the council-run body, which was set up two years ago to attract jobs and investment to Leeds.

The inward investment work carried out by Leeds and Partners is already set to be taken over by the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

At a meeting of the council’s executive board on Wednesday, councillors rubber-stamped previoulsy revealed plans to discontinue Leeds and Partners.

When changes take affect in April, the council will oversee the visitor economy in the short term, while attracting inward investment will be the responsibility of the region’s combined local authorities through the Leeds City Region Leeds Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

A report presented to senior councillors this week said: “There is...scope in the medium term to consider future collaboration on the visitor economy at city region level, potentially linked to the commissioning of Welcome to Yorkshire.”

Leeds and Partners was set up two years ago to attract jobs and investment to Leeds. The move to disband it will save the council around £1million in administrative costs as the bill for inward investment is shared through the LEP. Overseeing the visitor economy will cost the council around £435,000 a year.

Mr Verity said Welcome to Yorkshire “look forward to doing all we can” to enhance Leeds’s vibrant tourism offering further.

This week, councils in York and Scarborough agreed six-figure funding to host stages of the first Tour of Yorkshire cycle race in May 2015, which Welcome to Yorkshire is organising with Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation.