Ambitions of plan to boost visitor economy to be developed

Businesses and key partners involved in the multi-million pound visitor economy in North Yorkshire will help shape the key priorities for a new wide-ranging plan to develop the vital sector.

The visitor economy brings in more than £1.5 billion a year from domestic visits alone to North Yorkshire.

We are coordinating a strategy that will aim to boost the visitor economy and support the tens of thousands of workers employed in the sector, while attracting a more diverse range of visitors.

A draft destination management plan has been drawn up and a series of consultation sessions are being organised throughout this month and in October to glean the views of tourism businesses and partner organisations involved in the industry to pinpoint the main ambitions of the proposed strategy and how they can be achieved.

The draft plan will then be reviewed and enhanced to take into account the opinions gathered during the consultations.

The visitor economy is also supported by thousands of volunteers who help to ensure that a vast array of events, attractions and venues, including museums, public gardens and theatres, can operate effectively.

We are celebrating the difference volunteers make by sharing stories from across the county as part of our Team North Yorkshire campaign.

Council leader Cllr Carl Les said: “The visitor economy is a very important aspect of what makes North Yorkshire such a special place, and it a privilege to be able to share the county with so many people from across the world.

“We are indebted to the many volunteers who help ensure that some of most popular attractions and venues can provide such a wonderful experience.

“However, support from the Government as well as both the public and private sectors is vital to help to maximise the full potential of the visitor economy in the county.”

The destination management plan is set to provide the first countywide approach to promoting the visitor economy following the launch of the council in April.

It is aimed at promoting a year-round visitor economy in the county, while ensuring that it is heavily themed on sustainability and ensuring that the industry can thrive alongside communities living in the county.

The draft plan is aiming to help ensure visitors stay for longer and explore more of what North Yorkshire has to offer, while attracting more people to travel to the county from overseas.

Work is under way on a bid for a Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP), which will involve both the private and public sectors and will need to follow a new national process to be eligible for support and potential funding from the Government.

A destination management plan is a requirement for achieving Local Visitor Economy Partnership accreditation and it is hoped the document will help to lever additional investment from the Government and other partnership organisations to deliver the strategy.

Tourism in North Yorkshire accounts for 10 per cent of the county’s overall economy, and 41,200 workers are employed in the sector.

Find more information about volunteering in North Yorkshire

Read about the some of the volunteers below

‘Being a volunteer is one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever done’

When 78-year-old Robin Davies jumps into his car to make his weekly journey to Ripon he knows he is in for a day full of surprises.

The retired policeman is a volunteer at Fountains Abbey and says every day is different – with new people from around the world to meet, all with their own tales to tell.

“Being a volunteer is one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever done,” said Robin.  “You never know who you are going to meet that day – they could be from the other side of the world or the other side of Ripon, but everyone is there to see the wonders that Fountains Abbey offers.”

He joined the 300-strong volunteer team at the National Trust property ten years ago.  After retiring from North Yorkshire Police, he spent some time as a taxi driver before joining the Harrogate Community Safety Partnership, but when he left there for a local charity he realised how much many areas of the workplace rely on volunteers.

Robin said: “Working for Paperworks opened my eyes to the importance of volunteers. I knew I had to help in some small way. Ten years on I am still at Fountains Abbey – if you love history and the natural world, this is the place to be.”

Some days he can be found greeting visitors in reception, others he will be driving people with mobility issues around the abbey.

“I love meeting people from all walks of life and helping wherever I can. I would recommend volunteering to everyone, whatever their age. It gives me a buzz every time I am at Fountains Abbey,” he added.

Andrew Moss, senior volunteering and community officer at Fountains Abbey, said: “Put simply, we wouldn’t be able to look after our World Heritage Site if it wasn’t for our amazing volunteers.”

‘If you are doing something that interests you and has a social benefit, that is a win-win’

When he retired, Tim Phillips decided that was the time to scratch the itch that had been with him since his earliest years.

The 79-year-old was put in touch with the Yorkshire Arboretum, a 120-acre garden at the Castle Howard Estate, near Pickering, by a neighbour in 2020 and became one of their Wednesday Tree Care team.

Tim said: “I had an interest in trees all my life, but I am a child of the ’50s and ’60s and back then there was no money in environmentalism, as we would call it today. So, I got a job with an oil company and spent my working life in air-conditioned offices around the world.

“Tree care is about planting trees, tending them, keeping them safe and helping them grow. It is what you might call large scale gardening. Also when big trees die, we have to fell them.”

With big trees comes big equipment.

“I did not imagine I would be using so many power tools,” he added.

A highlight has been constructing a red squirrel enclosure, re-introducing the species to that part of North Yorkshire.

He said: “That was extremely satisfying and was done by the volunteers under the guidance of the head arborist.

“Three reds were introduced last autumn, one male and two females, and they have had three babies and we are now hearing that one of the females is pregnant again.”

Tim would recommend volunteering.

He said: “If you are doing something that interests you and that activity has a social benefit as well, then that is a win-win.”

‘Every time I go to the Georgian Theatre Royal, I get a real buzz’

If all the world’s a stage, then Gerry Broadbent’s roles on it as a volunteer are many and varied.

Gerry, 79, retired to Richmond from the Hull area nine years ago with wife Janet after the couple fell in love with the town – and its Georgian Theatre Royal – after regular visits over many years.


The couple are lifelong theatre lovers and almost immediately Gerry offered his services to the Georgian theatre.

“Within a week of moving here I had gone to the theatre to say can I volunteer, filled in a form and started out,” he said. “I started ushering, but before long the front of house manager said to me ‘I’ve noticed you can stand up and smile at the same time, so I’d like you to be front of house’. So I became front of house, too, then moved into the box office as well, then guided tours, then some of the technical stuff backstage and in the control booth, then running the Friends of the Theatre, so things escalate fast when you’re enjoying yourself. Every time I go into the Georgian Theatre Royal, I get a real buzz.”

Gerry, a former secondary school headteacher in Hull and Beverley, is one of about 100 volunteers – including Janet – who support the theatre.

The theatre is the oldest working in the country still in its original form. It boasts King Charles III and Queen Camilla as patrons and Dame Judi Dench as president.

“It is a very important part of the cultural heritage of the country,” said Gerry. “To lose that would be criminal, but it will only be kept going by volunteers.”