Tourism is big business. In Yorkshire, the value of that business is now worth a staggering £9 billion annually to the county.
That figure was revealed by Welcome to Yorkshire recently at its tourism show Y19 as the organisation revealed its plans for its strategy over the next ten years.
It represents a massive increase of £1 billion, year on year, and is indicative of the continued growth of the tourism pound.
And the Bradford district is certainly getting its share of the huge amount of revenue tourists from both home and abroad are bringing in.
The industry is worth close to £700 million every year to the Bradford economy alone, and the council’s healthy people and places portfolio holder Sarah Ferriby, who is responsible for tourism issues, is very clear on the impact it has for the region.
“Ensuring we continue to attract visitors to the area will help to support the retailers, food and drink businesses, as well as accommodation providers.
She said iconic locations in the district like Haworth and Bronte Country, Saltaire’s UNESCO World Heritage Site and Ilkley attract visitors from all over the world, in particular from America, China and Japan.
She also stressed the importance of Bradford’s City of Film status in helping promote the area internationally.
And visitors to the district continue to increase, with both day visitor numbers and overnight stays regularly going up year on year.
Sarah stressed the hard work that had to be done to continue to keep the industry buoyant by keeping the visitors coming in.
“Visit Bradford is a council-run service and continually promotes Bradford and district as a visitor destination. Promotion is done through the visitor guides that are distributed nationwide, the visitor information centres in Bradford and Ilkley, the Visit Bradford website, which has over a million hits a month, and the social media platforms,” she said.
“We also work with businesses and accommodation providers around the district to improve experiences for visitors.”
Continued work to improve the city centre was also a key factor, and she said that the continued investment in Bradford would have a positive effect on all aspects of the economy, including tourism.
“Changes in the city are due to investment from businesses, the council and grants, and funding. There are significant changes afoot which will increase investment and the numbers of visitors to Bradford, ultimately having a positive effect on the city’s economy.
“Visit Bradford also work very closely with the Bradford BID in order to meet tourism objectives and ensure the businesses benefit from visitors to the City.”
A global event like the Tour de France in 2014, and since then, the internationally high profile of the Tour de Yorkshire, have seen the beauty of Yorkshire highlighted on television screens around the world and almost all of the races have passed through the Bradford district at some point over the last six years.
Sarah said: “These are world-class events and have raised the profile of the district. To be able to share the iconic places in the district and it be viewed by millions of people on TV is fantastic publicity.”
The continued growth of other events and festivals had also played a huge role in encouraging the visitor pound in.
Bradford City Park has a packed programme of events such as the Bradford Literature Festival, Bradford Festival, the Food and Drink Festival, as well as events across the city like the Science Festival also play their part.
And elsewhere in the district, Ilkley Literature Festival is one of the most important on the national calendar, and other big draws include Saltaire Festival and Haworth 1940s weekend.
“We work constantly to promote these events and they are one of Bradford’s biggest qualities. We value them very much.”
The Council also works closely with all the BIDs, which are now up and running in Bradford, Keighley and Ikley to increase activities and promote them.
“Our ethos is about partnership working with all stakeholders to help, facilitate and support the work they are doing,” she said.
“Bradford has so many fantastic attractions to bring people in. I won’t list them all but here are a few…. National Science and Media Museum, Alhambra and St Georges, Cartwright Hall and Lister Park, Bingley Five Rise Locks, Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Brontë Parsonage Museum, Cow and Calf Rocks, Ilkley Lido, Saltaire and Salts Mill and many more.”
She said the Council was always looking for new ways to support tourism, and it recently launched Sparkling Bradford.
“This is a campaign to promote all the family-friendly events that are taking place throughout Bradford over the Summer holidays. You can see what else is happening here www.visitbradford.com/sparklingbradford or follow us on SM @visitbradford #visitbradford.”
It’s a success story that tourism bosses want to continue at a regional level.
Peter Dodd, Commercial Director at Welcome to Yorkshire said: “To have the tourism industry grow by £1billion in 12 months is fantastic news and everyone in the county should be incredibly proud of all the hard work that is being done to continue to raise Yorkshire’s profile.
“Brand Yorkshire has never been stronger and together with our members, partners and everyone in the tourism industry we look forward to building on that success even more. Welcome to Yorkshire will continue to be bold, creative and ambitious to bring world-class events to the region to underpin the vital lifeblood of grassroots tourism.”
At the recent Y19, there was a big focus on Welcome to Yorkshire’s plans for the future and a number of major tourism announcements were made.