From 30-31 March, hospitality, travel and tourism businesses will connect with the UK's largest county through targeted keynote speakers, webinars, masterclasses, networking and panel sessions.

Under the theme “Reopen, Recover, Rebuild” with a focus on innovation and diversity across the tourism industry, the forum is guided by Welcome to Yorkshire’s strategy to promote the county as a preferred choice to Visit, Live, Work and Study.

Over two days packed with influential sessions, panel discussions, webinars and masterclasses, Y21 will be an occasion to highlight the importance of tourism, and what the industry can do for investment, conservation, digitisation, infrastructure, research and the development of skills across the county.

After the official opening by TV’s Dr Amir Khan and multi-Gold-winning Paralympian Hannah Cockroft MBE, DL, the event will feature insights from a stellar line-up of keynote speakers. This includes an exclusive interview with Patricia Yates, VisitBritain strategy and communications director to assess the national impact of Covid and what this means for Yorkshire. CEO of Screen Yorkshire, Sally Joynson will be speaking on the influence of TV drama on tourism. Also from the media industry, Sinead Rocks, managing director for Nations and Regions at Channel 4 will be talking about the significance of the station’s HQ relocation to Leeds.

Tackling topics on the county’s economy prospects, Leeds Bradford Airport CEO Vincent Hodder looks at the need for an international gateway airport to attract worldwide visitors directly to the region, inviting people to stay longer and spend more in the county. Keeping on the international theme but also looking at the domestic audience, CEO and principal at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Sharon Watson MBE, DL will be speaking on the role educational institutions play in a wider tourism strategy.

Sharing insights from the recently formed Tourism Recovery Group as well as the reopening of one of the county’s most iconic landmarks, The Piece Hall, CEO Nicky Chance-Thompson will be taking the audience along the county’s metaphorical road to recovery.

CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire, James Mason says, "It’s amazing to think that if the North of England was a country, it would be the 21st largest economy in the world! The level of insight & quality of speakers we have assembled for our Y21 conference next week is remarkable, and the event looks to harness the possibilities and opportunities that now lie ahead, as we come out of the toughest times any business has had to endure.

“We’re also delighted to announce Yorkshire’s four regional LEPs as partners for our Y21 conference, demonstrating true collaboration to recover the wider economy.

Our thanks to Sheffield City Region, Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.”

This year’s line-up of outstanding business leaders and well-known thought leaders in their fields of expertise will begin to bridge the vital link between business investment and tourism innovation. In particular, one of the main objectives of Welcome to Yorkshire this year includes a digitalised approach to promoting tourism in Yorkshire, as well as to underpin the hospitality, cultural and creative businesses that are to be found in every corner of the county, as well as those choosing to make it their new home.

Open to anyone with an interest in Yorkshire as a place to Visit, Live, Work or Study, all the sessions at Y21 are free to attend and this year all events are held online. Participants will have the opportunity to seek answers to the challenges of marketing and operating a business out of a pandemic, as well as exploring evolving value chains and digital transformation of the tourism industry based on key insights and case studies. Day one will round off with a bumper online Yorkshire Quiz in aid of Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Y21 is open to both Welcome to Yorkshire members and non-members. All who register for Y21 will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win a flight for 2 people at the Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta, York, in September, plus FREE entry to the event and parking. For a full programme of events and registration visit