THE Press is celebrating the attractions and businesses - big and small - that make York one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

The city’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and we want to help the sector bounce back by launching the We’re Backing York campaign.

Over the coming weeks, we will be shining a light on some of the tourism attractions and businesses that help make the city a great place to visit.

We will be profiling different tourism attractions to show our support, and to outline how they are adapting to the challenges posed by Covid-19.

We will also be celebrating York’s arts scene and the work going on to help live performances return.

York Press:

But what makes York an incredibly popular place to visit?

Sean Bullick, managing director of the city’s destination management organisation, Make It York, said: “In York we’re renowned for our history, culture and beautiful environment, and also for our industry, ingenuity and innovation.

“The variety, quality and passion of our local businesses is what makes York such a unique place to live and visit, and we’re supporting The Press campaign to celebrate their amazing work.”

He said the tourism sector is a vital part of York’s economy, bringing in £765 million in visitor spend annually and supporting 24,000 jobs.

“Right now, our number one priority is ensuring York bounces back strongly from Covid-19,” he added.

“Our new tourism recovery marketing strategy, with City of York Council, is crucial to this.

"It’s focused on re-energising our city, supporting local businesses, and building confidence in York as a safe and welcoming place to live and visit.”

York Press:

Andrew Lowson, executive director of York Business Improvement District (BID), which works to support city businesses and the wider community, said: “As local people we sometimes take for granted what York has to offer.

“In a nutshell it has a range of shopping, good places to eat, attractions for the family, and of course it looks beautiful!”

He said the York economy has diversified over the years, but tourism plays a vital part.

“Tourists are often high spenders, because they have come on holiday to enjoy themselves, eat out and buy those luxuries they may not back home,” Mr Lowson said.

“But let's not forget that local people supporting the city is equally important – a tourist is unlikely to buy a hammer from a DIY store, or bedding from a department store!

"The city needs a balance of visitors to thrive.”

He said York BID is continuing with its established projects of street rangers and street cleaners, to help the city feel safe and clean.

In a specific response to Covid-19, the BID has placed 25 hand sanitiser stations around the city and recruited a ‘volunteer army’ of city hosts – local people who want to provide a friendly face to visitors and help them with information and directions.

Mr Lowson said “it is too early to tell” how well the city’s tourism industry is recovering.

“Some attractions are still not feeling ready to open, but from some we have spoken to, they have been pleasantly surprised by bookings and gradually seeing an increase in numbers,” he said.

“Everyone is saying we need public confidence to increase, which is why it is so important we all make an effort to make the city as inviting and welcoming as possible."

He said The Press’ new We're Backing York campaign to support tourism is “much-needed and very welcome".

"The coronavirus pandemic has presented us all with tough challenges over the past months," said Cllr Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities at City of York Council.

“York is in a unique position to overcome these, as the city has a long history of reinventing itself and tackling challenges,” he said.

“From flooding to changing industries, we’ve adapted and evolved, whilst continuing to welcome those who come to see our history and enjoy what the city has to offer.”

He said as York will see a reduction in visitors from overseas due to travel restrictions

As a result, City of York Council is working with partners from across the city to encourage visitors from Yorkshire and the UK to come and discover York’s rich history and great hospitality.

Cllr Smalley told The Press: “Since the start of the lockdown period we have been supporting business from all sectors across the city to ensure they are ready to welcome both residents and visitors.”