CRUNCH talks have been held about the future of Welcome to Yorkshire today - with options still 'on the table'.

The tourism board had reportedly asked for a further £1.4million of public money to support its work, and had warned that it would have to consider closure without it. 

However,  Rydedale District Council leader Keane Duncan said his authority would not be contributing its £33,000 share, while Hambleton Council leader Mark Robson said he would want more information about how his council's £53,000 would be spent. 

The board held an Extraordinary Board Meeting this afternoon (Thursday, June 25) to discuss WTY’s future "following the serious challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic".    

The Board discussed offers of financial support from local authorities across the region but said it needed further talks with councils before a definitive option could be pursued.

As lockdown eases and the hospitality industry is due to begin reopening in July, WTY aims to put tourism at the heart of the region’s economic recovery.

Chair of WTY, Peter Box said: “There’s more work to do before we can agree a way ahead. We will continue to talk to council leaders about financial support and the options that flow from that.

"The response we’ve had from leaders over the past few weeks has been encouraging and we were able to have a constructive discussion at this afternoon’s Extraordinary Board Meeting. We will have further talks before we plot a way forward.

“I’m grateful for the support we’ve already had from council leaders, and others, across Yorkshire. If we are going to deliver a successful economic and social recovery from the pandemic, tourism will have to play a crucial role in that.

“Without a thriving tourism industry, there won’t be the kind of recovery we all want to see in Yorkshire.”

In response to today’s meeting being held in private, a Welcome to Yorkshire spokesman said it was still committed to transparency and would continue to hold Board meetings in public.

The meetings on January 22 and February 21 were open to the public. The meeting on March 23 would have been held in public but was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The decision to hold today’s extraordinary meeting in private was based on the nature of matters discussed such as the options for the future of Welcome to Yorkshire.

"We did not feel this was something that could be held in public as we have a duty to inform the staff, paying members and other partners first."

The announcement comes on the back of Welcome to Yorkshire's newly-launched recovery plan designed to boost the tourism sector post-lockdown.

It aims to preserve the area’s attractions, locations and businesses while keeping interest high in Yorkshire as a visitor destination following the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis. 

York Press:

Interest in Yorkshire from staycationers has reportedly been high, thanks to its vibrant cities and stunning coastline, including Flamborough (pictured). Picture: Nadia Jefferson-Brown

The support is vital for tourism in Yorkshire which is worth £9 billion annually, with the county’s tourism and hospitality industry employing almost 225,000 people.

Since the start of the pandemic, the destination marketing organisation has been working with local authorities, national parks, LEPs, many businesses and tourism representatives on plans.

These have focussed on finding ways to help organisations to feel confident that they can offer a safe visitor and employee experience. 

Among its work, WTY is responsible for organising the popular Tour De Yorkshire which provides a major economic boost to the county. 

WTY has courted controversy and financial problems in recent times, with the chief executive officer Gary Verity stepping down last year  following an expenses and bullying scandal.