WHILE it was difficult to stroll through York during Ascot week without humming the Specials' Ghost Town, those of us running visitor attractions eagerly await our slice of the supposed £50 million "boost" to York's economy.

The Richard III Museum has been about 70 per cent down on last year during Royal Ascot, so who exactly is enjoying the £50 million?

Hotels, restaurants, pubs, hat-sellers? And where did this figure of £50 million come from?

Is it simply a speculative promotional "guess" based on over-optimistic wishful thinking? Is it based on the belief that soft southerners have finally twigged that we're not all cloth-capped whippet-fanciers, and, as a result, plan to revisit historic York in their droves?

Like anyone involved in tourism, it has to remain a case of "I'll believe this when I see it".

Outside of tourism, most traders in York appear to have suffered similarly. Were visitors too scared to come for fear of traffic or overcrowding? Did residents all disappear to the coast? Were people worried about that old chestnut, "parking"?

Tourism is already a depressed industry in York, because, I always maintain, of the lack of Americans since 9/11 and the strength of the pound.

In many ways, Royal Ascot has delivered it yet another unwelcome blow. I suspect I may be not alone in hoping Royal Ascot in York is not to be repeated.

Apart from the refreshing lack of drunken idiots in Top Man suits marauding through South Bank (toffs appear so much better behaved), it's difficult to find anything positive to say about it.

Mike Bennett,

Richard III Museum,

Monk Bar, York.

Updated: 09:42 Monday, June 20, 2005