Leeds council chiefs are launching a major action plan to turn the city into a global tourism magnet.
But could the way the E.U referendum vote goes on June 23 be the vital factor in our achieving that status?
The council’s cabinet will be told at a meeting tomorrow, 24 hours before the nation goes to the polls, that the Leeds visitor economy - already worth £1.5bn a year - is experiencing huge growth which “supports and is critical to” the wider Leeds economy.
Visitor numbers and tourism spending in Leeds is “growing rapidly, at a faster rate than the national average”, they will be told,
However a report to the panel also notes there has been a 24 per cent increase in international visitors to Leeds, with Spain, Netherlands, France and Germany being four of the top five countries of visitor origin.
Leeds currently attracts around 27 million visitors a year, with tourism supporting around 18,500 jobs.
The report to the executive board. which lays out the city’s tourism-boosting action plan for the next year, adds: “Tourism is a significant and growing sector of the Leeds economy and a major contributory factor to the success of the city benefitting everyone who lives and works here.”
Earlier this year, a study by trade association UKinbound found that more than four out of five tourism firms believe staying in the EU is important to their businesses. The organisation’s chairman, Mark McVay, said Britain’s tourism industry “thrives on collaboration with our European neighbours”.
A survey of 8,000 people by TravelZoo earlier this year also found a third of Italian, Spanish and German travellers would be less likely to travel to the UK if it was no longer a member of the EU. However it also found respondents from some nations – notably France – believe that leaving the EU could make the UK a safer destination for holidays.