York and the visitor

By | Category: Travel destinations
Viking realism in York © Jorvik Centre

Viking realism in York © Jorvik Centre

Everyone knows that York is a tourist magnet. How much it relies on tourism becomes clear in the annual summary which points out that 7 million people visited the city spending £606 million.   That spend has grown almost twelve-fold over the last quarter century. Now the city has decided that it would like this to grow to £1 billion by 2024 and no wonder when it calculates that 20% of all the jobs are due to tourism.

On the face of it, York should have no problem meeting the target set by Visit York. It has the city walls,the minster,  the National Railway Museum, the Jorvik Centre,  (the 30th Jorvik Viking Festival begins tomorrow) Betty’s, (which at 8am had Japanese and Chinese tourists posing in front of it) river tours, a racecourse, York’s Chocolate Story,  and National Trust properties like the newly re-opened Treasurer’s House. And I haven’t mentioned half the things that attract us to visit the city.

But being successful has its problems, not the least of which is parking. As one taxi-driver suggested to me, the only way to ease the parking is to bulldoze the city and re-build it so that it becomes car-friendly! The second problem is accommodation. In the hotel in which I stayed they were full and given that we are in mid-February what will it be like in high summer? Is their more accommodation building on the way? Or must they settle for day-trippers who spend less but can get there by the excellent train connections the city has?

In fact it wants to attract more overseas visitors. At present the largest groups come from the US, Australia, Germany, Holland and France and to achieve this they will need more accommodation. But what of us, the domestic visitor? Little is said other than they would like us to spend more money and visit more in the off-season. But if my hotel is anything to go by, that might be an issue. Overall, I get the feeling they think we will visit because we know of York. The bulk of the effort will be attracting the overseas visitor.

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