VISIT York will be working more with the North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority in a fresh drive to boost visitor numbers to the park.

Members of the park authority have approved a £75,000 scheme to team up with the tourism body after a visitor survey of 2,000 people found the 554sq mile area was struggling to compete as a destination with other areas.

Catriona McLees, the authority’s head of promotion and tourism, said: “Whilst awareness of the North York Moors might be pretty high in Yorkshire and Humber and the North-East, beyond these areas we are not really well known at all, whereas York is a highly-recognised destination, right on our doorstep.

“We already know quite a lot of visitors want to extend their visits in York and come back again, so by working in partnership it gives people more reasons to come back to York and visit the national park.”

Authority chairman, Jim Bailey, said he believed the park’s identity was less clear nationally due to its variety of landscapes and heritage.

The profile-raising initiative is being funded by compensation being paid by Sirius Minerals for the impact its polyhalite mine development near Whitby will have on tourism.

The meeting heard the collaboration between the distinct areas, which have traditionally been viewed by some as rivals in attracting visitors, was part of a concerted drive to boost visitor numbers to the North York Moors, particularly before the peak season.

Ms McLees told members the scheme exemplified how it had embraced working in partnership with a range of organisations to create distinctive products and experiences to encourage visitors.

She said the third running of the park’s Dark Skies Festival in February and March, which would be promoted alongside the popular Jorvik Viking Festival in York, was being expanded over 17 days, featuring 65 events.

 Member Leslie Atkinson questioned whether the £75,000 would have been better spent on providing facilities to existing visitors.

He said while he understood the park needed visitors to maintain the local economy, places such as Robin Hood’s Bay, Falling Foss waterfall and Boggle Hole suffered gridlock and parking problems on a regular basis.

He said: “The coast is now at saturation point as far as visitors are concerned. We are desperately short of car parking and we’re also sadly lacking in toilets.”