Y TOURISM? Reflection Paper on Building Back Better in York, UK

In 2020, as the COVID Pandemic put global travel and tourism to a halt, some destinations made use of the time “home alone” to engage in deeper conversations around tourism, the return of tourism and how to ‘build back better’ and ensure a future visitor economy designed to create value for city and community far beyond metrics of growth in visitor numbers and spending.

In late 2020, Make it York (MIY) commissioned Group NAO to support York’s exploration of how to ‘build back better’ with tourism as a positive contributor post-pandemic.

In summary, stakeholders were looking 1) for tourism and culture to take more leadership on sustainability, 2) to develop tourism for stronger diversity and inclusion within the city, 3) to rebalance the city vibrancy with better tourism and 4) to put locals at the heart of the conversation on the future of tourism.

The end delivery was a reflection paper to initiate a new conversation on the potential role and purpose of tourism to York. Based on stakeholder interviews, the process was also a probe for shared definitions of what “better tourism” might look like and what that would entail and require. The reflection paper was therefore also a possible precursor for a future strategy for VisitYork.


Make It York


The process involved multiple online workshops, focus groups and stakeholder interviews, as well as identifying international inspirational reference cases. The reflection paper and keynote presentation at the annual VisitYork conference VYCON22 reflects findings in an idea catalogue for possible future initiatives and priorities.