New West Yorkshire partnership approved to boost regional tourism

Towns and cities across West Yorkshire have joined forces for a new strategic tourism partnership that will maximise the potential of the region’s visitor economy.

Today it was announced that an ambitious joint bid by councils in Leeds, Calderdale, Kirklees, Bradford and Wakefield to form a new Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) alongside West Yorkshire Combined Authority had been successful.

Currently, each of the five West Yorkshire districts manage tourism activity for the region’s 65 million annual visitors individually.

The new LVEP programme, developed and administered by VisitEngland, will see districts come together, sharing ideas and resources while they collaborate on ways to grow the visitor economy, attract more visitors and inward investment and create job opportunities across West Yorkshire.

The West Yorkshire LVEP will also be able to access expert advice, dedicated toolkits and training programmes as well as getting support for applications for important national funding.

Working closely with public and private sector partners, the West Yorkshire LVEP will hold regular meetings attended by representatives from each district.

They will be chaired by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, who said:  “I’m thrilled that the rich heritage of our districts has been recognised in this way.
“Through this new partnership, we can drive forward West Yorkshire’s tourism offer and give the sector the vital support it needs.
“Combining our strengths to build a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire, we’re ready to show the world why it’s the place to be.”

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “We are delighted to have secured LVEP status and excited that we will now be working more closely with our neighbours so that together, we can showcase the very best West Yorkshire has to offer.
“Our region is a completely unique, vibrant and beautiful place which deserves an international spotlight. By working more collaboratively and sharing ideas, we can support each other in highlighting what makes our districts so remarkable individually whilst also collectively showing just how special West Yorkshire is as a region.”

Councillor Michelle Collins, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “Our new tourism partnership is going to be right at the heart of work to attract visitors to our wonderful region. We’re excited that more and more people, both from this country and from abroad, are discovering all the diverse and special things which West Yorkshire has to offer.
“The visitor economy is central for our plans for Wakefield district to be a growing hub for sporting, cultural and leisure activities. Increasing visitor numbers is great news for our fantastic local businesses, and it helps provide great job opportunities for local people.”

Councillor Sarah Courtney, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for towns, tourism and voluntary sector, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this exciting new partnership. Calderdale has long seen the importance of its visitor economy and it has become increasingly important over the last few years in helping our economic recovery.
“Calderdale is now firmly on the map as a national and international visitor destination due to its distinctiveness, the impact of filming and because of the many great attractions, like Hebden Bridge, Eureka! and the Piece Hall. With our Year of Culture 2024 fast approaching, we are proud to be part of wonderful West Yorkshire and look forward to working with our partners to take the region to the next level.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for healthy people and places, said: “Our region has so much to offer, from our stunning countryside to our cosmopolitan cities and fascinating heritage.
“So, working more collaboratively with our neighbouring districts can only maximise what we offer visitors, who are likely to cross over district boundaries. Being a Local Visitor Economy Partnership will enhance the visitor experience, as well as providing a welcome boost to all those businesses involved in tourism.”

Councillor Naheed Mather, Kirklees Council’s cabinet member for culture and tourism said: “This is great news for Kirklees and West Yorkshire. We know that tourism brings opportunities for investment and growth which in turn helps us to further enhance our places for visitors and local people alike.
“I believe that our shared cultural and natural treasures can provide a unique visitor experience, that can compete on both a national and international scale. I look forward to working with my counterparts in other local authorities and the combined authority to showcase the wide variety of attractions in Kirklees and across the region.”

The LVEP programme was launched last year after consultation following a government review of Destination Management Organisations across England.

An interim board has been appointed which includes key tourism partners across West Yorkshire who will help shape the future or tourism for the region.

The LVEP will also continue working with partners and organisations across the wider Yorkshire region to promote the Yorkshire brand.

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: “Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs) are at the heart of transforming the visitor economy landscape in England and we are delighted to welcome West Yorkshire onto the programme.
“We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with West Yorkshire as the LVEP is established, providing ongoing support including a dedicated VisitEngland regional development lead.
“Having the right national and local infrastructure in place to grow our visitor economy, in an inclusive, accessible and sustainable way, will ensure England continues to be a compelling destination for both domestic and international visitors.”

The successful LVEP applications comes with the year-long Leeds2023 cultural celebration and Kirklees Year of Music in full swing, with the region building towards Bradford’s year in the spotlight as the UK’s City of Culture 2025.

More details on the LVEP programme can be found at: Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEP) programme | VisitBritain