York and North Yorkshire Mayoral Election - 2nd May 2024


Information for tourism and hospitality businesses

The election for the first York and North Yorkshire Mayor will take place on Thursday 2 May 2024. Find out more about the role of the Mayor here

I emailed each of the Mayoral Candidates to ask them to outline (in an article or video) how they will represent and support the tourism and hospitality industry, and gave them a deadline to do so. The deadline has now passed but not all the candidates have responded...

These are the responses from the candidates who responded. I've listed them by surname alphabetical order. 

Felicity Cunliffe-Lister (Liberal Democrats)

I have lived in the Yorkshire Dales for 24 years and in that time have taken a derelict castle and converted it into a hotel (Swinton Park), and since launched a cookery school, bird of prey centre, off-grid campsite, self catering cottages and spa & country club. The business now has a turnover of £6M and employs over 150 staff.

As an entrepreneur, I know how hard it is to juggle the day to day operations with all of the back office administration that can be so overwhelming. I know how hard it is to manage in the current climate with all the challenges that face the sector: staff and skills shortages; food and energy costs; limited public transport; lack of affordable housing. I also spent my 20’s in London practising as a commercial property lawyer, where I gained invaluable experience in the world of development, finance and business acquisitions.

The tourism sector is one of the most significant sectors within the Yorkshire economy, with hospitality being an element that is not always recognised for the value that it amounts to. As Mayor I will set this straight, and work with stakeholders and business associations to raise the profile of the industry as a whole for it to have better representation. I will also create better engagement between school and business enabling more work experience opportunities, to raise the aspirations of students and employ more talent. I will also boost the night-time economy with better public transport and support the sector as it campaigns for lower VAT rates, better visa arrangements and business rate reform.

With the combination of our heritage, culture and natural landscape, the sector has enormous potential - particularly as we see the market move in the direction of sustainable travel, authentic experiences, adventure & adrenalin, wellness and retreats. Combining the assets of York and North Yorkshire creates some excellent opportunities to create more experiences, more reasons to visit and longer stays.

The role of Mayor requires leadership and business acumen, and the ability to collaborate and facilitate. I am the only candidate with these skills. I have a proven track record as a hard working commercial operator and entrepreneur, and have both vision and ambition for the region.

My pledge is to establish a clear and ambitious strategy for the whole region for tourism and hospitality, to enable long term investment and consistent development. I will champion the region nationally and internationally and work with neighbouring mayors, to put Yorkshire back on the map - and centre stage.

Website for more info: http://www.felicity4mayor.com/

Kevin Foster (Green Party)

Tourism is a hugely important part of the North Yorkshire economy. One of the key things we need to do to support it is to ensure that there are good quality staff willing and able to work in the industry. To attract staff we need to do much more to make sure that accommodation for staff is available in the localities where staff are needed at affordable prices. I therefore back focusing opportunities to build in tourist locations on providing homes for need.

In terms of promoting tourism the number one priority remains protecting our local environment which is the thing which people primarily come here to enjoy. I therefore oppose free trade zones where low quality initiatives can take place without proper management. The recent die off of sea life which impacted on our coastal sea life has been linked to sloppily controlled dredging in the Teesside Freeport. I will be fostering high quality sustainable development.

One of the big challenges for all of us is how to gain a wider understanding of the attractions of the area on low marketing budgets. Some good gains were achieved by high publicity one off events such as the Tour De France. There were also problems for tourist destinations and insufficient new business was attracted. I therefore favour more long term and sustained developments such as the provision of safe long distance cycle tracks which have done much to attract families to visit the Derbyshire Dales. 

I will be leading a team of economic development specialists who possess the skills to use available funding to draw in even more funding for the region. I will be expecting those teams to work with the experts on how to develop the local tourism industry which is, of course, the people running the successful local businesses that do so much to support local employment and the vibrancy of our local communities.

Website for more info: https://york.greenparty.org.uk/kevin-foster-candidate-for-york-and-north-yorkshire-mayor/

Paul Haslam (Independent)

Tourism is very important to York and North Yorkshire - it's worth about 3 - 3.5 billion every year. We attract millions of people every year.  The visitor opportunity is growing as more people can work remotely from the office. We need to be ready.

Part of The Mayor's role is to support and enable business and the local economy to thrive. I strongly believe in building on the great tourism industry we have and supporting the people that have built it. 

There are several ways in which my manifesto should strengthen our tourism offer: 

  1. Creating an integrated transport system that allows people to get about while they are in holiday without worrying about the car. A world class service that people can rely on, without fear of the transport failing to arrive.
  2. Increase access to destinations by various modes of transport.
  3. Developing more leisure based active travel. 
  4. Promoting the economy. My top two priorities are food (and drink) and tourism. I see great locally grown ingredients helping support the Delicious Yorkshire Brand, supplying superb local restaurants and the hospitality trade.
  5. Affordable homes in the right place ensuring that there are the employees to support the tourism trade.
  6. Adult skills and education to support the development of the appropriate skills to support the needs of the industry.
  7. Support the tourist industry by promoting our historic, rural, and beautiful county, not only in the UK but around the world 
  8. Promote Eco tourism and the hotel sector.
  9. Invest in conferences (anecdotally over 80% of conference visitors say they intend to come back to North Yorkshire for a holiday)
  10. Invest in world class events to attract tourism.

And, with responsibility to hold the police and fire to the highest standards, ensure we keep both residents and visitors safe.

As a listening Mayor, I will be open to suggestions on how the Mayor’s office and the Combined Authority can create conditions to support and promote it. Regular liaison will be important.

Website for more info:  https://haslam4mayor.com/

Keith Tordoff (Independent)
Website for more info: https://keithtordoff4mayor.co.uk/

If you'd like to hear the candidates speak and answer questions, you can attend one of the hustings: 

Get answers to your questions on Culture and Tourism from the candidates to be the first Mayor of York and North Yorkshire.

6.30pm Thursday 25 April, Merchant Adventurers Hall, Fossgate, York YO1 9XD

On Thursday 2nd May we will elect the first Mayor of York and North Yorkshire. The Mayor will have substantial powers and a budget for the economic development, jobs and skills across the region. How will the Mayor make the most of Culture and Tourism to ensure that York and North Yorkshire is successful and sustainable?

Please join us at 6.30pm on 25 April, in the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, in Fossgate, York, when you can get answers from the Mayoral candidates to questions put to them with the help of our Chair for the evening, Jonathan Cowap, of YO1 Radio.

Book your place here