Huge cash injection hopes to boost North East visitor numbers

Developments that will help drive thousands of visitors to the region has been given the go-ahead

Kielder Bike trails could be added to under proposals which will see £700,000 of investment in the region's landscapes
Kielder Bike trails could be added to under proposals which will see £700,000 of investment in the region's landscapes

A programme of developments worth more than £700,000 that will help drive thousands of visitors to the region has been given the go-ahead.

Northern Lands includes a range of projects designed to bring the landscapes to life and help visitors explore the area.

The projects include establishing a network of electric bikes for hire, upgrading existing and creating new discovery sites and establishing food trails.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has commited £463,000 to seven projects in the North Pennines AONB, Northumberland National Park, the Northumberland Coast AONB and the Durham Heritage Coast as well as new cycle routes in Hamsterly Forest and Kielder Forest.

This has been matched with £286,000 of cash from the protected landscape organisations, Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council.

The project is being run by Visit County Durham, the destination management and marketing agency for County Durham.

Melanie Sensicle, chief executive of Visit County Durham, said: “We are delighted we have been able to help bring this investment into the North East.

“Our protected landscapes are some of our most important assets and we want visitors to discover and enjoy them.

“Each landscape has its own characteristics and qualities and Northern Lands will bring these to the attention of many more people.

“The projects will develop the landscapes in a responsible and appropriate way and will help sustain our rural communities, who do so much to look after these special places.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “The new cycle routes, electric bikes and trails are expected to attract an extra 30,000 visitors to the area, boosting the prospects of 195 tourism businesses in the region and creating new jobs.”

Peter Samson from the North Pennines AONB and project leader for the electric bike network said: “Northern Lands came about through work at a national level by the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“This is a brilliant opportunity to add to the ways in which visitors can experience and appreciate our stunning protected landscapes. It will bring resources to improve products and will bolster opportunities to increase the economic benefit of tourism activity based on the special qualities of our landscape.”

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