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South Yorkshire's Strategic Tourism Planning from 2021 - 2025

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The writer has a Master's Degree in Economics. She enjoys researching and writing about economic and business issues.

Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Located in the southern part of Yorkshire and the Humber region, South Yorkshire has a population of more than 1.4 million people and has been known for its beautiful architecture, culture, and other natural attractions. While in the past, the region has focused on industrial development as the main source of its economic development, for the past decades, it has been transformed into a service hub, trying to turn tourism into one of its key economic pillars. Since in addition to its benefits, tourism can cause serious problems to a region’s social, economic, and environmental landscape, it is important for South Yorkshire to conduct a thorough research and develop a comprehensive master plan for its tourism development to ensure sustainability.

This article aims to develop the tourism planning for the region over the period from 2021 to 2025.

South Yorkshire’s Key Tourism Stakeholders

Stakeholders mean all the individuals and organisations that actively plan and participate in an activity or are indirectly influenced by it (Schermerhorn, 2012). The key stakeholders involving in South Yorkshire’s tourism sector are:

  • Destination management organizations (DMOs): In the United Kingdom, tourism industry is organised and monitored via the networks of DMOs throughout the whole country. The highest authority is Visit Britain tourism agency which is responsible for managing and coordinating all UK’s tourism strategies, planning and implementation for the entire nation. The organisation is overseen and funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. For regional areas, there are other regional and local DMOs designated to be in charge of tourism planning, promotion and execution. For South Yorkshire specifically, there are two specific DMOs in the area namely Welcome to Yorkshire and Marketing Sheffield (Visit UK, 2020).
Welcome to Yorkshire

Welcome to Yorkshire

  • South Yorkshire’s local authority: South Yorkshire is made up of four metropolitan boroughs, each with its own governance authority. For the region, the South Yorkshire Joint Authorities Governance Unit consisting of related representatives from the 4 regions supervises and provides consultancy to the operation of joint South Yorkshire’s departments such as Fire and Rescue, Pensions Authority, etc. (South Yorkshire Joint Authorities Governance Unit, 2020).
  • Local tourism business organizations: Business organisations often represent the collective business’s interests and perspectives and help to promote a certain business community. For examples, the Sheffield City Region (SCR) Growth Hub which is a public-private organisation with representatives from both public and private sectors provide support to businesses in various aspects such as finance, trade, and promotion (SCR Growth Hub, 2020). There are other associations and organizations in the region such as Enterprising Barnsley, Doncaster Chamber, etc.
  • Local enterprises: To foster tourism industry, there are many businesses directly engaged in various tourism activities including hotels and resorts, tour agencies, restaurants, bars, pubs, visitor centres, museums, souvenir shops, shopping malls, supermarkets and retailing stores, convenience stores, etc. Additionally, there are also indirect businesses supporting tourism activities such as construction, finance and banking institution, etc.
  • Educational and research institutes: Educational institutions offer the necessary training programs to improve the quality of work force in the region, allowing a stable and high-quality supply of human resources. They can provide degree programs for students and on-the-job training programs for businesses. Some major universities/ colleges in the South Yorkshire region are Sheffield Hallam University, University of Huddersfield, Barnsley College, etc. Besides, research institutes conduct researches and provide valuable inputs for tourism operators and other decision-makers.
  • Residents: All people living in South Yorkshire region who currently work in tourism sectors or are impacted by tourism activities.

Process of Adaptive Tourism Planning for South Yorkshire

In more recent times, adaptive tourism development strategy has gained popularity since this approach is considered more inclusive, promoting better coordination among all stakeholders and increasing commitment towards the shared common goals and values. Adaptive tourism planning requires extensive collaboration among all stakeholders in tourism industry to pinpoint common shared values and goals. The plan should also be constantly re-evaluated and adjusted to reflect changes in the external and internal environments and ensure continuous learning and proper new actions.

Hence, the different steps of the process and timescale are proposed as followed:

  • Step 1: Identify all stakeholders: The list of all stakeholders of tourism industry in South Yorkshire should be identified, and the relationships among them should be documented to envision their impacts in the community and their roles in the process. The representatives of each group should also be contacted to prepare, collect inputs from their respective groups, and join the process.

This should be done in January 2021.

  • Step 2: Hold a series of stakeholder workshops: Workshops should be organised to collect feedbacks and inputs of all stakeholders. For initial workshops, the number of participants can be limited to help the planning committee gain an initial sense of the industrial setting, identifying most important topics to each stakeholder to generate more in-depth questions for follow-up workshops and meetings. At the end of the workshops, representatives should agree on shared values, South Yorkshire tourism sector SWOT analysis, available resources, future scenarios, expected outcomes and actions (implementation plan).

This should be done in February 2021.

  • Step 3: Collect further public data: After preliminary input collection from stakeholder workshops, more data must be collected through other channels such as survey, focus group interviews, etc. to analyse the current situation, trends and preferences for the region’s tourism industry over the planning period.

This should be done in March 2021.

  • Step 4: Develop the model plan: The planning committee works on the tourism development plan for the region over the period of 2021-2015, incorporating inputs and feedback collected from all stakeholders. Once the draft plan is completed, it should be published on a public web portal for all stakeholders to give feedback.

This should be done in April 2021.

  • Step 5: Finalise tourism development plan: The planning committee should hold new meetings with key stakeholders to review feedbacks on the draft plan, make necessary adjustments and finalise the plan.

This should be done from May – June 2021.

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  • Step 6: Implement the plan: The plan is implemented as agreed upon in the development plan. During the implementation stage, feedbacks and opinions of all stakeholders will be collected to closely monitor the effectiveness of the plan, identifying any obstacles hindering implementation.

This should be done from July – November 2021

  • Step 7: Evaluate and adjust the plan: Supervise the actions of all stakeholders in carrying out the specified plan. Every December over the period from 2021 – 2025, the annual planning and stakeholder meeting will be held to review the plan and participants will discuss and vote for any adjustments to the original plan to update and improve the plan.

This should be done in December 2021.

Adaptive tourism planning process

Adaptive tourism planning process

Development of a Resort Town for Retired People in Sheffield


With a size of more than 360 squared kilometres, Sheffield is a small town accommodating more than half a million people. The city has been known for its clean environment and green space, one of the best places for people to retire in the UK.

  • Opportunities for retirement and medical tourism in Sheffield
    • The total value of the world’s medical tourism was estimated at approximately USD 19.7 billion in 2016, and it was believed to consistently grow at a compounded annual growth rate of more than 18% until 2021 (Orbis Research , 2017).
    • The life expectancy of people in the UK is among the highest in world, at about 81 years old (Office for National Statistics, 2020). Coupling with the historic low birth rate and changes in lifestyle, more and more people of retired age in the country have to live on their own and seek for a suitable place for their retirement.
    • Sheffield has a wide range of facilities suitable for the elderly to live consisting of many convenient shopping centres, supermarkets, grocery stores, etc., world-class health-care facilities, and many interesting cultural activities all year-round
  • The project:
    • A resort town with onsite medical facilities for retired people is proposed to be constructed in Sheffield to cater to the increasing needs of retired people with an extended trip. The products and services provided at the facility including fully-furnished bedrooms and family rooms for short-term stay, and suits with built-in kitchen for long-term stay. The facilities also provide such infrastructures as restaurants, fitness centre, spa, gardens, and lots of open space. Most importantly, the onsite medical facility offers specific services for elder people such as physiotherapy and rehabilitation services, nursing care, and so on.
  • Implementation:
    • The construction of the resort is expected to take 2 years and will be divided into 2 phrases. At the end of the first phrase, major infrastructures are expected to be completed and can be put into services to generate revenues. Funding for the project can come from private investors. Revenues of the project come from room rents and related services such as restaurants, medical services, etc.
  • Project’s contribution:
    • The project can create more than 100 jobs for people in the region including both management and general labour positions. When it becomes profitable, the company can pay taxes and invest in more corporate social responsibility activities to give back to the local community. It adds a new product to the tourism product portfolio of South Yorkshire, meeting a once-underserved customer niche. Besides, the project can contribute to Sheffield’s reputation of being a green and environmentally friendly city.

Development of South Yorkshire Centre for Creativity


South Yorkshire is famous for its cultural heritages and historic sites that have been preserved for centuries. The region possesses an impressive collection of music, theatre, industrial heritage sites, historic houses and museums (Chamberlain, Morris, & Coles, 2020). Within this context, arts and creative activities have also thrived, adding more life to South Yorkshire and attracting visitors coming to explore.

  • Opportunities for creative tourism
    • The growing interests in experience as an indispensable part of a tourism package lead to increasing incorporation of cultural products and heritage in tourism products and the consumption of intangible local resources (Chang, Backman, & Huang, 2014).
    • Modern tourists travel not only to visit new places, see interesting new sites, or visit friends/ families. They also travel to seek new authentic experiences, learn new cultures, and discover more about themselves. Hence, creative tourism enables tourists to find new ways to explore and express themselves, engage closely with the local community and co-create the experience with the local artists.
    • For small region like South Yorkshire, once they have exhausted all their existing tourism resources, creative tourism opens up new opportunities to create unique and novel products for the region as human’s imagination and creativity are endless.
  • The project:
    • A centre for arts and culture is proposed to be constructed in the region. The centre will host regular workshops, conferences, and training classes by local artists and creators to serve both residents and tourists. Some typical workshops include cooking classes, performing arts, painting and design, etc. The facilities include a main building with classrooms, exhibition halls, galleries and performing art area, café and restaurants, and open and green space for events. The centre will display the best local arts and craft products and artifacts. Additionally, regular cultural festivals/ events can be held in the centre to appeal more visitors.
  • Implementation:
    • The project can be a public-private joint investment with funding both from the government and private investors. During the 1-year construction, the investors should also start advertising the projects and form partnerships with local artists, art teachers, non-profit organisations, and other stakeholders to cooperate with them to host classes/ events at the centre. Revenues of the project come from rental fees (for classes/ exhibitions, etc.), sponsorship, and tickets for special galleries, and services such as tour guides, food and beverages, etc.
  • Project’s contribution:
    • The project can create up to 50 jobs for local people, generating stable jobs and paying taxes to the local government. Since the project can draw more tourists to the region, it creates more tourism revenues directly and indirectly. Moreover, creative tourism is also claimed to contribute to sustainable development of the destination since it helps to preserve and enhance the local culture and heritage. Besides, it reduces the dependence of tourism on natural endowments and lowers the seasonality of the industry (Richards, 2009). In other words, tourists can have a reason to visit South Yorkshire to participate in these creative activities at any time during the year. It also helps to reinforce South Yorkshire’s identity as an art hub in the region, instil a sense of pride among residents, and provide a public space for community engagement.

Proposed New Tourism Products for South Yorkshire

Proposed new tourism products for South Yorkshire

Proposed new tourism products for South Yorkshire

Beautiful Yorkshire

Beautiful Yorkshire

Potential Challenges for Tourism Development for South Yorkshire

In the coming time, South Yorkshire can expect several issues in tourism development. First, the tourism sector has become increasingly competitive over the past decades. Customers have demanded higher quality and more personalised services. In addition, with the rise of the Internet, advances in communication and transportation technologies, tourists have more choices of destinations to visit, and other places which were considered remote previously are now within reach and are competing for visitors (Camilleri, 2018). Hence, without offering more attractive tourism products and pricing strategies, South Yorkshire might have difficulty in gain a competitive edge.

Second, the detrimental consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak have wrought havoc on tourism sector. Due to the pandemic, travelling restrictions are imposed not only internationally but also domestically, and during lockdown period, people were ordered to stay at home. Therefore, many tourism businesses have to close their business, losing their revenue, and many have gone bankrupt (Ayittey, et al., 2020). The pandemic is also predicted to change people’s travelling behaviours and expectations, and many changes to business operation during the pandemic might become permanent (Devakumar, et al., 2020). For now, the development of the situation is still unclear, causing many uncertainties over the fate of tourism industry in the next few years.

Third, the UK’s Brexit is also expected to affect tourism industry in many different ways. In the first place, the tourism industry in the UK depends heavily on labours from other European countries. Therefore, if the UK is no longer part of the EU, workers from other EU countries will have to obtain a work visa to legally work in the UK in long term, making it more difficult to hire these labours (Gov.UK, 2020). Moreover, many foreign tourists treat the UK as an entry destination on their trips around Europe. If they have to obtain a separate visa to enter the UK now, they might opt for skipping this destination.


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Camilleri, M. (2018). The Tourism Industry: An Overview. In Travel Marketing, Tourism Economics and the Airline Product: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (pp. 3-27). Milan: Springer.

Chamberlain, P., Morris, D., & Coles, G. (2020). Unlocking the potential of culture, arts and heritage in South Yorkshire. Sheffield: ChamberlainWalker.

Chang, L., Backman, K., & Huang, Y. (2014). Creative tourism: a preliminary examination of creative tourists’ motivation, experience, perceived value and revisit intention. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research.

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