Backing North Yorkshire’s re-opening tourism industry

I very much welcome the re-opening of the tourism sector in North Yorkshire this weekend.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement about changes to lockdown measures, up to 790 tourism-related businesses in the Richmond (Yorks) constituency will benefit from the move to gradually relax restrictions on Saturday, July 4.

They include pubs, restaurants, accommodation providers and leisure attractions like Thorp Perrow Arboretum, near Bedale, which I recently visited to see arrangements being put in place to keep visitors and staff safe.

During the visit, when I helped put up notices displaying safety advice, I said I very much hope people come out to support the tourism and hospitality businesses which are so vital to our local economy and jobs.

Safety is of paramount importance and it is vital that social distancing rules and the latest guidance are adhered to so that local people and visitors feel confident.

The staff at Thorp Perrow have done fantastic work to help visitors to the nationally-important collection of trees and shrubs enjoy their time safely while also protecting staff.

Because the 100-acre arboretum and bird of prey and mammal centre is an outdoor attraction it had been able to gradually open in stages through June. The children’s playground will re-open on Saturday (July 4).

It was wonderful to see good numbers of people enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and the beautiful surroundings of the arboretum, during my visit. After the long period of lockdown, people have been looking forward to taking a day trip, weekend break or staycation. Attractions like Thorp Perrow are keen to welcome them.

Sir Henry Ropner, owner of the Arboretum, told me: “We have loved having visitors back to enjoy a very special time of the year at Thorp Perrow.

“People have been very understanding and respectful of the advice we have given them which has been based upon the comprehensive guidance from the Government.

“That in turn has given us huge confidence that we could open up safely and responsibly.”

I was honoured to plant a Japanese maple tree in the arboretum’s acer glade and in the shadow of an old ash tree – part of Thorp Perrow’s National Ash Collection.