Revealed: Three ways Harrogate will create a £835m visitor economy by the end of the decade

The boss of Harrogate’s new tourism body - Destination Harrogate - has submitted plans which could see the region attracting £835m per year by 2030 and she has set out its top three goals.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 11th March 2022, 4:51 pm
Updated Friday, 11th March 2022, 4:54 pm
Positive economic vision - Gemma Rio, head of Destination Harrogate.

Harrogate Borough Council has approved Destination Harrogate’s new Destination Management Plan (DMP) which includes an ambitious proposal to achieve the long-term vision of a visitor economy worth around £835million per annum by 2030.

Destination Harrogate, the new Destination Management Organisation established by Harrogate Borough Council, has developed a three-year DMP to position the Harrogate district as a first choice destination for tourism, large-scale events and investment.

The visitor economy makes up 14.3% of the economy in Harrogate district and tourism plays a significant role in helping to ensure this thrives.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Priorities of Harrogate's Destination Management Plan (DMP)

Priority one:

To position Harrogate district as a first choice health and wellbeing destination, able to attract high spending domestic and international visitors.

Priority two:

This will position Harrogate district as a first-choice events destination by attracting, hosting and delivering exceptional events.

Events are a significant visitor driver, attracting people from far and wide to spend in the area’s venues, hotels, visitor attractions, bars and restaurants. A year-round festival, conference and events programme will ensure a lift in the visitor economy and enable sustainable growth.

Priority three:

Responsible tourism is the third priority. As we become more conscious of and conscientious about green travel and sustainable tourism, the DMO will work with partners to develop a responsible tourism strategy in order to be recognised as a destination for responsible tourism by 2030. In doing so, the DMO intends to minimise the negative environmental and social impacts of tourism, and enhance the economic and cultural benefits for visitors, businesses, and residents.

The DMP outlines Destination Harrogate’s exciting plans to attract more visitors, events and investors to the area following the Covid pandemic and builds upon 2021’s staycation success.

Coun Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “The visitor economy plays a huge role locally, underpinning 8,000 jobs and bringing £600million in to our economy.

“Without it our district would be a very different place with fewer shops, businesses and job opportunities. That is why it is important that we continually seek to grow the visitor economy.

"As well as attracting visitors to enjoy all that we have to offer, a thriving visitor economy enhances and maintains quality-of-life for local residents and makes Harrogate district a more attractive place to visit and invest. For a visitor economy to continue to thrive and grow, it requires a collaborative approach, strong leadership and a shared sense of direction.

“This plan is the culmination of a number of interviews and surveys provided by people and businesses that have a direct input into the success of our visitor economy and who have shared their ideas and suggestions to take us forward.”

The newly-formed Destination Harrogate team, together with partners, will showcase the Harrogate district to attract visitors, events and investment to create a strong local economy for businesses and residents.

Gemma Rio, head of Destination Harrogate, said: “Key stakeholders from visitor attractions and restaurants, independent hotels, conference venues and event organisers from across the district have contributed towards the shared goals of our ambitious plan to achieve the long-term vision of a visitor economy worth around £835m per annum by 2030.

“To attract business and investment, a destination must be distinctive, attractive and well managed and we have developed this Destination Management Plan (DMP) to set out the vision, priorities and actions, we - as a destination - need to put in place to meet that vision.

“We cannot undertake this task alone and a Destination Management Plan Advisory Panel was setup to ensure that the DMP captured the thoughts, ideas and experiences of a broad mix of individuals and businesses associated with the visitor economy.”

How Harrogate Convention Centre is playing a key role

Whether Harrogate Borough Council’s £47 million redevelopment plans for Harrogate Convention Centre are fully realised in the few years or not, the town’s biggest venue will be playing a crucial role in boosting the economy.

As well as seeing the return of big name live music acts, recent months have seen it win a series of major events after it stopped playing the role of an NHS Nightingale Hospital during Covid.

These have included:

The flagship Knitting & Stitching Show has signed up to host its annual event at Harrogate Convention Centre each November until 2025 with an economic impact for the town across the three years estimated at £2 million.

The Home and Gift Buyers’ Festival has committed to the venue each July until 2024.

Bridal Week will see more than 4,000 visitors and 1,000 exhibitors each September for the next four years, bringing a boost of £1,200,000.