What does the future hold for Welcome to Yorkshire?
Following the shock announcement last week that half of the board members of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire have resigned, chairman Peter Box has stated that it is “business as usual.
The resignations of Nicky Chance-Thompson, Richard Flint, Abbi Olive and Sarah Tahamtani follow on from the news that chief executive James Mason is to leave the organisation on October 22, after an internal row about how a complaint made against him was handled.
Mr Box, the former leader of Wakefield Council, expressed his disappointment that those who had resigned were not able to stay and support the organisation through a difficult period but added: "I’d very much like to thank them for their contribution during what has been a particularly turbulent time for tourism and wish them well for the future.
“At the moment it’s business as usual: we’ve got a chief executive in post until October 22.”
Mr Box was appointed in October 2019 for a 12-month tenure with a four-point remit but due to Covid he was asked to remain for a further one-year term.
When asked by the Express if he would be willing to stay on for a further year if asked to do so he said: “That’s a difficult question.
“When I took on the role it was only for a short period and that suited me, I never envisaged it as a long term thing.
“I can’t see me chairing Welcome to Yorkshire after the AGM on November 1, however it depends on what the informal board meetings due to take place in the next few weeks agree.
“When I was appointed, I was asked by the local government leaders, of which I was one at the time, to do four things.
“I was asked to ensure the appointment of a chief executive; I was asked to ensure that the board was refreshed; I was also asked to ensure that the Clarion report into Welcome to Yorkshire was made public.
“And finally I was tasked with making sure that there was a governance review.”
“I’ve also completed the task I set myself, which was to make sure that the board meetings were held in public.”
During lockdown these were conducted via Zoom with the first live meeting in Leeds held earlier this month.
Mr Box said while he feels most people still support the existence of a Yorkshire-wide organisation to promote the county, he questioned whether Welcome to Yorkshire remained the right vehicle to do it. “Is there a better way of delivering an effective tourism board for the county?,” he said.