Senior officials from the tourism agency unveiled the new initiative involving a total of 12 ambassadors at the Great Yorkshire Show, in Harrogate, yesterday.
The ambassadors, who have been drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds, will support sectors in the wider economy to help with the region’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Led by Philip Bolson, the owner of Mr B Hospitality and a former general manager of the Grand Hotel in York, the ambassadors will promote the region as a place to not only visit, but also to live, work and study.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, James Mason, admitted the tourism body had faced significant challenges after his predecessor, Sir Gary Verity, resigned in 2019 amid allegations of bullying as well as mounting concerns over his expenses claims.
Mr Mason said: “The opportunity to make tourism in Yorkshire more inclusive is so important, we want as many people as possible to enjoy the region.
“Not everyone will agree with what Welcome to Yorkshire stands for, which in all honesty is their choice, but I would hope there can be some degree of unity for the benefit of the tourism industry. I have always said that you should look to the expertise of people outside of your organisation to help, and that is exactly what we are doing with the ambassadors.
"The idea of Yorkshire Ambassadors isn’t a new concept and we still have many people who are associated with Welcome to Yorkshire that act as Ambassadors every day.
"Furthermore, anyone connected with the county, whether you were born here or live and work here, should always be flying the flag for our region.
"But after a really difficult few years, we thought it was worth relaunching this initiative with a fresh approach and with people who have played a significant role in supporting both the organisation and county over a very challenging period. Anyone that has been an Ambassador or Patron before should still consider themselves a key figure in our past, present and future. We need all the support we can garner and look forward to seeing them at events later this year.”
Among the ambassadors are Nicky Chance-Thompson, the Piece Hall Trust’s chief executive in Halifax, Sharon Watson, the principal at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, and Paralympian Hannah Cockroft.