BARNSLEY leaders are hoping to bring more ‘large-scale’ events to the town following on from the recent free gigs by Brit award-winner Tom Walker.

The town is playing a leading role in an ambitious scheme to host more big events to maintain high footfall figures in the town which are bucking national trends.

The Yorkshire Tourism Initiative (YTI) is a partnership of the county’s local authorities to support collaborative activity and is managed and co-ordinated by Barnsley Council in a lead capacity.

The YTI was commissioned last summer as a response to the demise of Welcome to Yorkshire.

Work is currently underway with an external consultant, whose role is to ‘identify and explore’ large-scale event opportunities, timescales, costs and likely return on investment.

It comes after a series of busy events including popstar Tom Walker’s gigs last month, Flavours Food Festival, Barnsley’s Big Weekend and Bright Nights, all of which helped increase footfall by 22 per cent.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “Barnsley has a wealth of attractions that draw visitors from near and far. Our cultural and visitor attractions, such as Cannon Hall, Elsecar Heritage Centre, Worsbrough Mill, Experience Barnsley and the Cooper Gallery welcomed 1.9 million visitors last year.

“Our events programme is second to none with festivals, performances, and markets that cater to all tastes and ages. We have hosted and supported several high-profile events in the past year, including the recent free gigs from BRIT Award-winning singer Tom Walker. These events have not only brought joy and excitement to our residents, but also boosted our local economy and reputation.

“The Glass Works is a stunning example of how we are transforming Barnsley into a modern and vibrant destination, with a mix of retail, leisure, food and drink, and public spaces. We are proud to support our fantastic visitor economy businesses, who make a vital contribution to our tourism industry and our communities.

“We recognise and celebrate the achievements of our private sector partners, who deliver high-quality services and products, and organise amazing events, such as Underneath the Stars, Penistone Show, and many more. We are not complacent and we will continue to work hard and collaboratively with our partners to deliver our plan and make Barnsley a destination of choice for everyone.

“We have a number of measures in place to develop our destination plan, improve our accommodation offer, continue to develop our borough-wide events programme, and create an online platform and marketing campaigns to promote the whole visitor experience.”

The borough’s Visitor Economy Forum (VEF) – which comprises more than 70 businesses – introduced an economy-led steering group in September to underpin the borough’s tourism offer.

A council report said: “The purpose of the group is to support the growth and development of the tourism sector in the borough and guide, oversee and influence the successful development of an appropriate Barnsley tourism strategic framework.

“It will also provide an ongoing link between the sector and the council to ensure that all opportunities are being maximised, to provide ongoing intelligence and insight from the market and to encourage collaboration across the sector.

“Following the opening of the Glass Works in 2021 a wide-ranging programme of events has been delivered in the town centre to celebrate the redevelopment, encourage a greater footfall and to ensure residents are proud of their town. We have seen real success because of the high-quality events programme.”

You might be interested in our Photo Gallery of the day Tom Walker came to town: