YORK’S popular Jorvik Viking Centre says there has never been a better time to visit than now, and has extended its opening hours to make up for lost lockdown time.

The attraction is the latest business that The Press is showcasing as part of its We’re Backing York campaign.

The campaign aims to help the city’s tourism industry bounce back and will be celebrating the attractions and businesses - big and small - that make York one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

York Press:

Jorvik Group attractions - including the Viking Centre, Barley Hall and DIG - recently benefitted from a £50,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help with their re-opening planning, safety measures and communications.

It comes after the Viking Centre, which reopened on July 11, suffered a loss of £1.2 million in visitor income between April and June compared to the same period last year. However, with furlough grants and cost-cutting exercises, the actual loss was £873,000.

A spokesperson for the attraction said: “It has been a significant hit, but thankfully, we have been able to retain all of our staff. We have kept staff on furlough and now brought back around 80 per cent of our staff team. We have temporarily lost our volunteers but most want to come back later in the year.

“Looking forward, we have no idea how education visits will be affected when schools return in September, so are exploring options for how we might continue to fulfil our education remit whilst generating some additional income.”

The centre re-opened with safety measures and social distancing in place, and its plans “ran extremely well, “ the spokesperson said, adding: “We were actually able to increase capacity within the first couple of days once we had seen how real people responded to our measures.

“We have extended our opening hours so that, even with reduced hourly capacity, we can still welcome everyone who wants to visit using the pre-booking system.”

Assuming the government-recommended measures gradually start to ease, the centre hopes to be operating at closer to normal levels by Christmas.

“There has actually never been a better time to visit Jorvik – whether you are coming from Acomb or Aberdeen,” the spokesperson said. “Our social distancing measures mean that visitors can enjoy their visit with a much easier flow – no queuing, no waiting for people to move away from display cases so you can see our remarkable finds, no crowds and much less background noise.”

They said the centre has been doing everything it can to make the experience safe, from thermal cameras scanning visitors for signs of temperature on arrival, to much more frequent cleaning regimes.

Tourism is the attraction’s “life-blood,” the spokesperson said.

“York is known as a Viking city, and many people make Jorvik Viking Centre their first port of call on a visit to York.”

They said the centre is “very keen” on people living in York and the surrounding towns and villages coming to visit and “hugely values” the support of the local people who have been revisiting.

The centre opens 9am to 7pm.