YORK tourism chiefs have given a cautious welcome to figures just released by Yorkshire Tourist Board which show an overall improvement in hotel occupancy figures in the city.

There was an improvement in both bed and room occupancy over the equivalent figures for 2001, though there was inconsistent performance month-by-month.

The figures for the first two months of 2003 show a slight improvement in bed occupancy, but a slight fall in room occupancy.

The figures are, overall, very similar to last year, though, and tourist chiefs say it remains to be seen how they are affected by the current international situation.

The Visitor Attractions Monitor (a sample of attractions in the city) has shown a generally improved position on visitor numbers since September 2002.

Though January 2003's figures were down slightly, the result for February 2003 (up 14.5 per cent) was the highest monthly increase since March 2002. March 2003 figures were down by 11.7 per cent on last year, April's up 17.5 per cent.

But March 2003 figures for hotel occupancy and visits to attractions were affected by Easter falling later this year.

Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of York Tourism Bureau, said: "Looking at three monthly periods for 2003, progress has been made for several months, but it is now slowing.

"We are about to unveil details of a new marketing and PR campaign next week which we believe will strengthen our position as Britain's favourite City destination, as voted by the Good Britain Guide 2003."

Updated: 09:40 Saturday, June 14, 2003