A WHARFEDALE MP is supporting Welcome to Yorkshire as it seeks financial support to secure its future.

The marketing organisation (WTY) has asked councils across the county for a total of £1.4 million to help it ‘following the serious challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic’.

But some authorities, including Hambleton District Council and Ryedale District Council, have said they are unwilling to pay their portion and voiced doubts about WTY’s future.

WTY held an extraordinary meeting in private last week to try to agree on a way forward.

Chair Peter Box said afterwards that the talks had been constructive though there was still ‘more work to be done’.

MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) is one of a number of politicians who have been working with WTY to see if they can help. He said: “The problems facing Welcome to Yorkshire are not unique. The UK is a great tourist destination and bodies which promote our cities, towns and regions play a vital role.

“But it should not be left to hard-pressed councils, who have seen their funding slashed, to foot the bill. Labour has been calling for government support for destination management organisations which will be needed now more than ever to help our tourism sector weather this crisis.”

Mr Box, speaking after last week’s meeting, said: “There’s more work to do before we can agree a way ahead. We will continue to talk to council leaders about financial support and the options that flow from that.

“The response we’ve had from leaders over the past few weeks has been encouraging and we were able to have a constructive discussion at our Extraordinary Board Meeting. We will have further talks before we plot a way forward.

“I’m grateful for the support we’ve already had from council leaders, and others, across Yorkshire.

“If we are going to deliver a successful economic and social recovery from the pandemic, tourism will have to play a crucial role in that. Without a thriving tourism industry, there won’t be the kind of recovery we all want to see.”

Referring to the contribution of MPs like Mr Sobel, a spokesperson for the organisation’s Board of Directors added: “Welcome to Yorkshire have established relationships with most Yorkshire MPs who are very supportive of the Yorkshire tourism industry.

“We are grateful for the support we have received in the last few days and believe that a combined effort is needed to aid recovery of the visitor economy.”

The organisation, which helps stage the annual Tour de Yorkshire cycle race, recently launched a recovery plan - Reopen, Recover and Rebuild - for Yorkshire’s tourism industry.