HARD hit tourism businesses have been dealt a further kick in the teeth by the weather this summer with the cancellation of the Harewood House Game Fair.

The Country Landowners' Association (CLA) fair had been due to take place this coming weekend but last Sunday organisers had to admit that the event had succumbed to the bad weather.

Businesses in the Wharfedale area are among those who will be hit by the projected £50 million loss of income which will result from the cancellation.

Tim Edwards, who runs Westwood Lodge self-catering accommodation on Westwood Drive, Ilkley, is a member of the Ilkley and Wharfedale Tourism Partnership.

He said that accommodation businesses, particularly guest houses and hotels who did nottake the money until the end of a guest's stay, would be hit hard.

He said it was a further blow on top of the downturn in bookings because of the flooding in Yorkshire earlier this month.

Mr Edwards said: "Hotels and bed and breakfasts will undoubtedly suffer and bookings are down already because of the perception that Yorkshire is closed to businesses at the moment. The number of bookings are well down.

"People who were coming just for a couple of days for the fair have cancelled and very few B&Bs have a recovery policy and take bookings in good faith. It is especially bad because we are coming up to what is normally the busiest part of the year."

Mr Edwards said that for self-catering establishments like his own, things were not quite so bad as people tended to book for a week and had planned to do other things as well as taking in the game fair, and so would still be coming.

He said that the recent flooding, especially of places like Doncaster and Sheffield, had given people from outside the area the wrong idea.

"They have been watching the weather on television, putting two and two together and coming up with five," said Mr Edwards. "One person rang from the US and said they were under the impression that Yoorkshire 'was closed'.

"Another guest due from Holland has deferred his holiday because he doesn't think they will be able to do anything because of the flooding."

The Chevin Lodge Country Park Hotel above Otley has also had some cancellations from people who were going to the game fair.

However, a spokeswoman said: "Fortunately, we haven't been hit hard because we have weddings booked in over the weekend. While we have had cancellations, we were fully booked anyway."

Lisa Preston, who runs the Pickersgill Manor Farm, bed and breakfast accommodation at Silsden Moor said: "This is a devastating thing to happen for many local businesses. I have had my bookings for this coming week and weekend since last November.

"I am a member of the Ilkley and Wharfedale Partnership, we meet every couple of months in a bid to keep tourists coming to Ilkley and the surrounding area and to make sure we provide the best facilities possible.

The Game Fair has been a topic on our agenda for several months and the decision to cancel will affect every accommodation provider in the area."

It is the first time in its 49 year history that the Game Fair has had to be cancelled.

A spokesman said: "Worse than predicted weather which has hit Harewood Estate over the last 48 hours, and has now defeated all the efforts the organisers have made in order to open the show this coming Friday.

"Despite weeks of rain the site was drying out well before the deluge of rain on Friday afternoon followed by lighter but continuous rain throughout the weekend. The site is now saturated with water lying in all areas of the show ground.

"The organisers are only too aware that aside from the financial loss they are going to have to bear, the overall economic impact of the cancellation will be in the region of £50million.

The Chairman of The CLA Game Fair Board, Vincent Hedley Lewis, said: "Ourselves aside, our hearts go out to all the people who's livelihood is going to be affected by our not being able to go ahead.

We have truly done all we could to keep the show going for everyone's sake. To proceed this week with the wet conditions we are experiencing would be a health and safety risk as well as an even greater financial loss to the hundreds of businesses and individuals who support us each year.

  • The bad weather has also forced the rearrangement of Weeton Show which was due to take place this weekend. The show has been postponed until Sunday, September 2.

Show secretary Candy Waller said all the same classes would take place but just on a later date. Show chairman David Beresford said that the committee was determined that the event would take place but at the present moment the show field was waterlogged.

He said that the later date would give a chance for the weather to improve.