Harrogate Council agrees £31,000 Welcome to Yorkshire bail-out in face of tourism troubles

The tourism agency was behind major cycling events like the Tour de Yorkshire Credit: PA

Harrogate Borough Council has agreed to pay its share of a £1.4million bail-out for troubled tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire.

Council leader Richard Cooper said he hoped the £31,000 payment would help efforts to revive Harrogate's struggling tourist trade once Covid restrictions were lifted.

Councils including North Yorkshire, Leeds and Kirklees have already paid their share of the sum.

But councillors in Wakefield refused, criticising the "lavish lifestyle" of Welcome to Yorkshire bosses and claiming the organisation offers no economic benefit to the area.

But Mr Cooper said Welcome to Yorkshire will have a "critical" role to play in the district's Covid recovery.

He said: "A Yorkshire tourism organisation is a valuable part of attracting business and leisure tourism and that is why it is important that Welcome to Yorkshire receives our support.

"We are looking to boost domestic tourism as we come out of lockdown. We need to start filling our B and Bs and guesthouses. We can do this as we are a brilliant location for short and long domestic breaks.

"But to make the most of every opportunity the added value that Welcome to Yorkshire can bring is critical."

Welcome to Yorkshire was responsible for attracting the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014 and the creation of the annual Tour de Yorkshire cycle race.

However, it has been troubled with culture, governance and management problems, and in June warned it faced a £1.4m funding shortfall due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The organisation's chief executive James Mason said "now more than ever" it needed to work together with businesses and local authorities.