Research commissioned by tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire last year and conducted by the Business School at Sheffield Hallam University suggested tourism is worth £9bn a year to the region, supporting 224,000 workers – 8.5 per cent of all jobs in Yorkshire.
“Businesses are coming to what should be the boom time of their year in spring and summer. Many businesses are ceasing to trade, many businesses are furloughing staff. Tourism is a face-to-face industry and all of a sudden their trading opportunity has stopped.”
He said Welcome to Yorkshire was aware of “dozens” of companies going out of business already and the number was increasing on a daily basis.
Last year’s report put annual tourism spend by visitors in Yorkshire at £7.3bn, with a further £1.7bn generated for the local economy for companies that supply services and goods to tourism businesses in the region.
Among the many events to be cancelled or postponed as a result of measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus is the Tour de Yorkshire cycling race, which was worth an estimated £60m to the local economy last year.
Mr Mason said Welcome to Yorkshire is focused on a two-pronged approach – helping businesses survive the lockdown period and preparing to promote the region and rebuild the economy by selling Yorkshire to visitors once movement restrictions are lifted and people can go on holiday once again.
He added: “In my short time at Welcome to Yorkshire I have tried to meet as many of our members as possible as they are the lifeblood of the county.
“They are all bursting with pride and want to explain why their little part of Yorkshire is so special. We’ve got to help get their message out.”
Businessman Malcolm Weaving, who runs The Rendezvous Hotel in Skipton, revealed his hotel had lost over £440,000 as a direct result of the crisis causing 3,500 cancelled bookings.
The majority of his 80-strong staff have been put on furlough.
But Mr Weaving added he believes Yorkshire will experience a “tourism boom” when lockdown measures are eventually removed.
Mr Mason’s warning follows the National Lottery setting up a £50m emergency fund for British heritage sites after almost 50 per cent of them said they will not survive beyond six months if the shutdown continues.