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Welcome to Yorkshire secures funding of £10 million
CAST aside all doubts - the doomed Yorkshire Forward WILL maintain its annual £10 million funding for Welcome To Yorkshire right up to its demise at the end of March 2012.
The regional development agency's decision is good news for Yorkshire's tourism industry, which has already grown in value from £5.9 billion to almost £7 billion in the two years since Welcome To Yorkshire was formed.
At the time Yorkshire Forward backed the new tourism organisation with a decision to invest £30 million pounds in the visitor economy from 2009 to 2012. Since then 4,000 new jobs have been created in the industry, confirming Yorkshire Forward's recognition that tourism was a vital part of the Yorkshire economy and had huge potential to grow. It is already the third biggest sector.
But with the coalition government calling time on Yorkshire Forward there was speculation that Welcome to Yorkshire would lose out on the final third year tranche of £10 million. Now those fears have been allayed.
The investment for 2011/12 means the continuation of high impact marketing campaigns and the development of festivals and events, as well as support for thousands of tourism businesses across the county to develop their product and skills.
It also gives Welcome to Yorkshire a springboard on which to develop a new funding model beyond 2012.
Thea Stein, chief executive of Yorkshire Forward, said: "Yorkshire Forward and Welcome to Yorkshire have always shared the same objective. This is to continue the excellent work the organisation has carried out in supporting and developing the visitor economy - a vital component of the region's economic success.
"I am delighted that we have been able to work together in a very challenging funding environment to reach a solution which will achieve this objective in the coming year."
An equally "delighted" Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "Visits to Yorkshire are up 22 per cent since Welcome to Yorkshire was launched. For every £1 invested by Yorkshire Forward in the industry it has delivered £40 back into the Yorkshire economy."
Councillor Andrew Waller, leader of City of York Council, representing 22 local authorities on the board of Welcome to Yorkshire, said that the funding now gave the tourism body a year to develop a long-term business case when the development agency switches to the new Local Enterprise Partnership model.
"So there is hope that there will be funding beyond 2012," he said.