Tourism leaders from West Yorkshire convened this week for the inaugural gathering of a new partnership aimed at unlocking the immense potential of the region’s visitor economy.

The initial meeting of the Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) witnessed representatives from each of the five West Yorkshire districts collaborating with key figures from the tourism sector to initiate discussions on expanding the visitor economy, drawing more visitors and investments, and generating job opportunities across West Yorkshire.

This meeting followed a successful joint application for LVEP status earlier this year by the councils in Leeds, Calderdale, Kirklees, Bradford, and Wakefield alongside the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Under the newly established LVEP scheme, developed and managed by VisitEngland, districts will exchange ideas and resources to enhance the offerings and capitalise on the region’s 65 million annual visitors.

The West Yorkshire LVEP will also gain access to expert counsel, specialised toolkits, training programmes, and assistance for national funding applications.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, who chaired the first meeting of the West Yorkshire LVEP, said: “I’m thrilled that work is underway to showcase our amazing region to the world.

“We’re combining our strengths to ensure that West Yorkshire’s tourism and hospitality businesses can unleash their potential and thrive for years to come.

“West Yorkshire is the place to be. And this exciting new partnership will help us build a stronger, brighter region that works for all.”

The LVEP initiative was originally introduced nationwide last year following consultations stemming from a government review of Destination Management Organisations across England.

Now established, West Yorkshire’s LVEP will persist in collaborating with partners and organisations across the broader Yorkshire region to promote the Yorkshire brand.

Councillor James Lewis, Deputy Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “It is fantastic to be able to bring together key figures who share the goal of showcasing our unique, vibrant and beautiful region to the world and show why we are all so proud to live and work here.

“Having LVEP status means we are now working more closely with our neighbours across the region, as well as working collaboratively with the tourism sector as a whole to really bring together our unique offer and work towards initiatives which encourage even more people to come and visit us.”

The inaugural meeting of the West Yorkshire LVEP board followed a visit from VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes, who came to Leeds to explore prominent sites and engage with leaders in the region regarding the new ideas and initiatives being presented by the West Yorkshire LVEP in 2024.

VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes said: “I was very pleased to visit West Yorkshire and see for myself the fantastic tourism products, businesses and attractions that make this region an outstanding visitor destination. I am also delighted that this new Local Visitor Economy Partnership is already working collaboratively with stakeholders and industry leaders to grow the region’s visitor economy.”

The initial LVEP board meeting aligns with the year-long Leeds2023 cultural celebration and the Kirklees Year of Music in full swing. The region is also gearing up for Bradford’s year in the spotlight as the UK’s City of Culture 2025, and Wakefield is preparing for Our Year – Wakefield District 2024, while CultureDale is being celebrated in Calderdale.