A MAJOR event which pumps an estimated £1m into the York economy has been cancelled.

York CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival which is usually held in September is one of the most popular fixtures in the city's calendar but has been put off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-metre social distancing rule would make it financially unviable, said organiser Karl Smith, who said they were 'desperately disappointed'.

The announcement comes as research into the event by Northumbria University estimated the four-day event boosts the York economy by £1m through direct and indirect spending, such as hotel bookings.

"It was looking more and more inevitable," said Karl. "To be fair to everyone including our valued suppliers and contractors we felt we needed to make a decision."

A provisional date for September,15 to 18, 2021 has been set.

"Our festival is a big undertaking. We have to construct effectively a new village and then take it won again a few days later. That takes a lot of time and pre-ordering. How can you have a beer festival if you are not sure about your brewers? They are in hard times. Ultimately some of those may not last the course.

"It is our showcase event and it has gorwn to be legendary. But if you have social distancing at two meters with any big event it is not going to work.

"Ok, people come to drink beer and cider but it is a big social occasion with people coming with friends and family. A big part is social interaction.

"And our financial overheads are the same whether we fully fill the tent, or half. It becomes financially unviable. We made a very modest profit. We aim to cover our costs and make a modest profit. Last year there were times when we were reaching our capacity."

The news comes just after a new national Campaign for Pubs was launched, led by Paul Crossman, licensee of The Swan, The Slip Inn and Volunteer Arms in York which aims to give a stronger voice for the industry at grassroots level.

The research released by Northumbria University measured the economic impact of local beer festivals, with a particular focus on York.

After analysing the event in 2017, it estimates a total effect of £1.18 million economic impact on the city of York, of which about £720K in terms of direct effect.

The four-day event, run entirely by volunteers, attracted 10,380 people.

Tom Stainer, CAMRA's Chief Executive, said: "Just one beer festival can inject substantial cash into the local economy, both directly and indirectly, with little or no cost to the local council.

"In particular, festivals help boost income for local hospitality and tourism businesses. Given that CAMRA runs over 200 beer festivals across the country, we can extrapolate these findings to suggest beer festivals contribute many millions into local economies, as well as providing a valuable route to market for numerous independent breweries.

"This is great news all round - for local councils, local pubs and consumer choice."

"We hope that recognition of the huge cultural and economic contribution festivals make will encourage the government to work quickly to develop guidance to allow them to reopen safely, as soon as possible, and in consultation with CAMRA and other organisations which organise them.

"When that happy day comes, we'd invite everyone to join us in raising a pint to Professor Cabras and his team!"