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Tourism Chief To Step Down

Visit York, the city’s official tourism organisation, has announced that its Chief Executive, Gillian Cruddas MBE, will step down from her position on 31 October. Gillian has spent over thirty years working in the tourism sector, getting her first taste of the industry on the ski slopes of the Alps in the 1980s and collecting an MBE for services to tourism in York in 2010. During her time with Visit York she has been instrumental in winning numerous accolades for the city including European City of the Year.

Prior to York, Gillian worked for Hull City Council as a Tourism Officer and was responsible for setting up Hull Conference Bureau. Other tourism work included promoting the DFDS sea routes as Area Sales Manager for the North East and working in Italy and France as a Ski Tours Manager for Cairngorm Travel. A spell as a Hotel Manager in the Scottish Highlands and an Air Stewardess for Air UK created her initial interest in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Gillian said, ‘I’ve been fortunate to hold one of the best jobs in tourism and it has been a real privilege to have worked for eighteen years promoting this beautiful city. There have been so many highlights such as Royal Ascot in York, collecting the European City of the Year award in Athens, launching our Stay Longer campaign with Sir Richard Branson and opening our new state of the art Visitor Centre.

I’m looking forward now to exploring new challenges and would like to thank all of those businesses in the city who’ve worked with me and our expert tourism team to develop York as an internationally renowned quality brand. We are now in the fortunate position that destinations across the globe look to Visit York for tourism advice. Visit York will continue to push new boundaries to ensure York punches above its weight.’

Jane Lady Gibson, Chairman of Visit York said, ‘York’s tourism sector has gone from strength to strength under Gillian’s dynamic leadership. We are currently in the process of consulting with the travel trade, our visitors, our members and residents on key priorities for the future and how we make tourism even more successful. All of this work will continue to develop with the valued support of York’s tourism businesses and the City of York Council.’ ENDS

For further information please contact:

Kay Hyde – Head of PR and Corporate Communications – Visit York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07961 828092

Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Visit York
Direct Line: 01904 554436

Notes To The Editor

Key Milestones in Visit York’s Success:]

• In 2012 Visit York celebrated 25 years of leading tourism in York (formerly the York Visitor and Conference Bureau, later the York Tourism Bureau)

• Since launching in 1987, when it was first chaired by the late Donald Shepherd and had Paul Wells as its Chief Executive, the agency has championed and supported the city’s accommodation and hospitality providers, retailers and visitor attractions, ensuring York’s reputation as a first class visitor destination has reached far and wide across the globe.

• Visit York has helped boost annual visitor numbers to the city from, 2.1mn visitors in 1987 to seven million today and it has worked to increase the value of tourism to the local economy from £55 million to a record breaking £443 million. This booming tourism industry has also helped create more jobs in the sector from an estimated 5,000 in the mid-eighties to 23,000 today.

• In 2008, the York Visitor and Conference Bureau became Visit York and moved from George Hudson Street to 1 Museum Street, where Visit York’s new state-of-the-art Visitor Information Centre is also now located.

• Gillian, who was awarded her MBE in 2010 for her services to tourism, has been at the helm since 1995.

• York’s transformation into a cosmopolitan city was heralded with the introduction of pavement cafes and foot streets along with the Park and Ride scheme in the late eighties and early nineties.

• The re-launch of the Bar Convent in 1996, the opening of the City Screen Picturehouse in 2000, the addition of the Yorkshire Wheel in 2006 and 2011 and a brand new five star hotel, the Cedar Court Grand, have all contributed to York becoming a cultural hotspot in the north of England.

• World class attractions such as Jorvik, the National Railway Museum and York Minster continually offer visitors new reasons to come back. Other key highlights include the transformation of the city’s events programme which now features regular favourites such as Illuminating York, the York Food & Drink Festival and the Jorvik Viking Festival.

• Catering for this increase in visitor numbers has gone hand-in-hand with an investment of over £300 million in accommodation and attractions across the city over the last 25 years.

• Hotels which have played a key role in this increase include the Novotel, which opened in 1987, along with the top-rated Hotel du Vin, opening in 2007 and the city’s first five star hotel, the Cedar Court, which opened its doors in 2011 – all of which have contributed to the rise in serviced bed spaces in the city from 5,800 in 1987 to 8,000 today.

• With the support of City of York Council Visit York has ramped up its communications programme to reach businesses and tourists from Newbury to New York. Its first website,, (now, which launched in 1998, and the installation of brown tourism signs on the A1 in 1999, both helped to guide visitors to the city’s main hub. Out of town retail sites such as Monks Cross, which opened in 1992, and York’s Designer Outlet in 1998, also helped to drive visitors to the city’s outlying areas.

• The city’s famous racecourse underwent major refurbishments in 1996 and again in 2004, with Royal Ascot being held here in 2005, helping to give the city’s racecourse even greater standing.

• The re-dedication of York Minster after the fire of 1988, the launch of the Barbican Centre in 1990 and the Royal York Hotel Conference Centre opening in 2000, have all helped to attract leisure and business visitors over the last quarter century.

•Today, with its new Visitor Information Centre now attracting ten thousand visitors weekly, Visit York continues to celebrate all that is unique about the city.

• Visit York is supported by the City of York Council and over 700 tourism businesses and works in partnership with Visit England.

• Visit York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure and business visitor, and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. Visit York is responsible for leisure and conference marketing, visitor services (running the city’s Visitor Information Centre), training and ensuring a quality visitor experience.

• Visit York is the driving force of the city’s tourism industry.

Key facts:
7.1 million visitors
£443 million total visitor spend
23, 000 jobs

More York Tourism Highlights:
• Cedar Court Grand – York’s first 5 star hotel
• York’s CHOCOLATE Story - York's newest visitor attraction
• Yorkshire Museum - York's oldest museum - 1840
• National Railway Museum - the first national museum outside London
• York Racecourse – in the world top 10 of racecourses
• York Maze – the world's largest maize maze
• Science and Innovation Grand Tour - the first of its kind in the country
• York Mystery Plays 2012 - largest outdoor theatrical show in the UK
• Fairfax House – the country's finest Georgian House (celebrating 250 years in 2013)
• Micklegate Bar Museum - the city's most important gateway (Her Majesty The Queen was welcomed through the gate in the Jubilee and Olympic Year)
• Wheel of York - the first wheel to be housed in a hotel grounds
• The Original Ghost Walk - first ghost walk in York, established in 1973
• Mount Royale Hotel – York’s longest running family run hotel