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There’s no doubt that the York 800 celebrations are doing much to put the city on the tourist map this summer, and I’m hoping that at least part of the summer holiday will see sufficient sunshine to enable York’s outdoor visitor attractions to experience the increased visitor numbers that many of our indoor attractions are currently enjoying.
The city’s visitor market comes in many shapes and sizes, and the universities have a valuable contribution to make. Here at the Business School, we attract more than 1,500 applications annually from the UK and overseas – a number that is on the increase.
I wouldn’t usually use this column to bang the York St John drum, but I can’t talk about applications without mentioning my immense pride at the recent news that applications to York St John University have increased more than any other university in England this year.
A backdrop of falling applications (down ten per cent in England overall) makes this achievement even more impressive, and reflects the hard work that is going on throughout the university.
That aside – about 30 per cent of applications to Business School programmes come from overseas students but, as a rule, it isn’t the overseas students who bring most visitors to the city. Families from the north-east and north-west of England, the Midlands and elsewhere in the UK come to visit their children who are studying here, spending time in the city and making a significant contribution to the visitor economy.
And what about the people who’ve lived here for years? People like me, who, because they live in the city, think that they can visit these places “any time”, when in reality we never quite get round to doing it. People who walk past York Minster every day and eventually stop marvelling at its sheer magnificence.
Just last week, York’s Chocolate Story opened its doors to host the York Professionals for a behind-the-scenes event. Collaborations such as these serve as the perfect reminder for people like me of just what we’ve got here in the city, and encourage me not to take it for granted.
So, this summer, forget the “I can visit there any time” argument. Rediscover the awe we see on the faces of students visiting York for the first time. Get out there and enjoy this beautiful city, make your contribution to our thriving tourist economy and appreciate everything we have, right here on our doorstep.