Welcome to Yorkshire admits ‘big mistakes’ but wants 45% increase in subscription fees
North Yorkshire councils will consider whether they should help keep Welcome to Yorkshire (WtY) afloat.
The struggling tourism organization has increased its contribution for local communities by around 45%.
Senior advisers responded by calling for the flow of public money that was handed over to WtY to be permanently connected or for a decision on this year’s funding to be postponed until options for governance, finances and the future direction of tourism marketing for the region are presented to the Yorkshire Leaders Board next month.
The tourism organization has admitted to making “big mistakes” in the way it spent taxpayers’ money, including spending more than £ 430,000 to remove and investigate its former chief executive, Sir Gary Verity, in following concerns about his expense claims.
In recent years, many local authorities have threatened to halt funding for WtY, at a time when its finances have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Lord Scriven, the former head of Sheffield City Council, said WtY needs to adopt a self-funding model.
Nonetheless, in October, WtY said it had sufficient funds to operate until March 31, assuming all subscriptions committed for 2021/22 are paid.
A report from officers at a Richmondshire District Council board meeting on Tuesday 11 January says subscription fees for local authorities were initially ‘modest’ at £ 1,300 per year until 2012, when which the rate was raised to £ 10,000.
The cost of the subscription for next year has risen to £ 14,515, which WtY justified by considering that there had been no increase in the previous six years.
The report says council agents asked WtY to provide a Richmondshire-specific plan to illustrate the activities the local authority could count on in return for the subscription, but instead the tourism organization produced a six-month review of the activity on its website. and elsewhere.
WtY said that between April and October last year, Richmondshire received 45 posts on its social media channels with 17,045 impressions. He said that during that time there had also been a combined total of 266,094 pageviews about Richmondshire on his Yorkshire.com website.
Richmondshire Councilor and Stuart Parsons, Leader of the Opposition in North Yorkshire County Council said WtY’s pageviews for Richmondshire were much lower than the private tourist website Richmond Online, which received one million visits per month.
He said: “What did we take away from Welcome to Yorkshire? Nothing but scandal. Originally, it was supposed to be self-financing immediately, but it has always relied on massive public contributions.
“Boards should no longer donate money to an organization that has failed to demonstrate that it is making an effective difference in our lives and our economy. “
The departmental council Chief Financial Officer, Advisor Gareth Dadd said the authority would consider any request for funding from WtY “in light of its performance and our ability to pay.”
He added, “There is definitely an advantage to having a tourism marketing organization. “