IT’S been a dream year for York’s tourism marketing bosses, as the city has marked its 800th anniversary, welcomed the Queen, celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, hosted an Olympic torch relay and staged the Mystery Plays in the Museum Gardens.

But now Visit York bosses are facing up to the tricky question: how do we follow that in 2013?

Chief executive Gillian Cruddas and chairwoman Lady Gibson, addressing more than 200 tourist businesses at the organisation’s annual conference today, spoke about the opportunities coming up and said the city needs to sharpen its competitive edge to stay one step ahead of rival destinations.

The event at York Racecourse also saw the launch of an extensive consultation on a new tourism strategy being jointly delivered by Visit York and the City of York Council.

Lady Gibson said: “2012 has been a momentous year for York. What’s important now is that we capitalise on the legacy this year has created.”

Mrs Cruddas said 2012 had been a year of highs and lows, with hotel occupancy up two per cent in the year to September but visitor numbers to the city’s eight largest attractions down 7.6 per cent on last year, although York had performed well compared with other historic cities and a strong end to the year was forecast.

She said Visit York planned to target the lucrative first time visitor market, increase promotions overseas and ‘really tell the world about the depth and breadth of what there is to do in York; the wealth of attractions and beautiful countryside and fantastic visitor attractions on our doorstep.’

She said there would be promotions at several London stations and she urged anyone visiting Covent Garden this month or next to go and see 3D images of York, which were attracting a lot of attention.

Large format adverts in national papers and digital advertising were all coming soon, a new website was to be launched and York MPs Hugh Bayley and Julian Sturdy were helping to organise a ‘York Minster to Westminster’ event in the Houses of Parliament next March to promote the city as a conference destination.