Tourist board VisitEngland has welcomed government plans to help boost tourism in the North, ahead of tomorrow's Northern Futures Summit in Leeds.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg today announced plans to make available £10m worth of funds to help back a tourism strategy for the region. The proposals are part of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), and are expected to help build on the area's growing popularity with tourists, and the role of tourism within the overall economic success of the country.
VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: "We welcome this additional £10m for the development of a new strategy for tourism in the North.
"This commitment from government clearly demonstrates that tourism is being increasingly recognised as a key driver of the economy, which creates important jobs throughout the country. We will be working closely with our sponsor department DCMS, our local partners, and the private sector to devise and implement the strategy to launch next year."
Clegg highlighted the figure that London currently attracts 4.5 times the number of tourists than the whole of the North region.
Via a statement on the Liberal Democrats website, he said: "It's absurd that our great North is missing out on visitors when it boasts such stunning countryside, history and culture. Through the Northern Futures project, I asked people what our Northern cities needed in order to compete globally, and to grow. A strong Northern future relies on putting the North back on the map: a top tourist destination. From next year, I'm putting funding in place for there to be a clear strategy."
Similarly, minister for tourism Helen Grant said that the money would help champion the North's heritage, culture and landscapes, while Clegg himself also picked out Hadrian's Wall and Alnwick Castle as key attractions. The funds will be available to the 29 individual tourist boards across the North region.
The Regional Growth Fund has already committed over £19m to projects such as ‘Growing Tourism Locally', which has reportedly generated a total of £527m in additional tourism spend in the country, and created a record number of 9,800 additional jobs for the sector, according to VisitEngland.
Berresford added: "VisitEngland is committed to supporting all areas of the country to ensure that tourism in England thrives. We will continue to work closely with partners throughout the country to build on the success of recent activity."
The deputy prime minister is set to host the Northern Futures Summit in Leeds tomorrow, which is expected to bring multiple tourism representatives of the North together, to help discuss strategies for the area's future.
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has welcomed Clegg's announcement.