Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg is today calling for a strategy to boost tourism in the North East.
Mr Clegg is making £10m of Government cash available to back proposals for a clear strategy for tourism across the North of the country.
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.
“Your resounding call is clear - 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 for tourism in the North, bringing harmony to the current offer from 29 individual tourism boards into one great offer.”
Last week the Journal revealed how the North East had seen the strongest visitor figures since the onset of the 2008 recession today, with overseas tourists spending £88m in the region.
It is hoped today’s plans can further build on that.
Minister for Tourism, Helen Grant said: “I grew up in Carlisle and know first-hand how important tourism is to the North of England.
“So I’m passionate about championing the vibrant culture, fascinating heritage and stunning landscapes the north offers to tourists.
“This £10 million fund will build on the success of the Government’s tourism strategy to date, which has bought record numbers of visitors and spend to the UK.
“But we want to see a greater spread of tourism across the country and this will ensure that the North benefits from this element of our long term economic plan.”
London has 4.5 times more international visitors than the North of England as a whole.
Mr Clegg added: “I’m in Leeds hosting the Northern Futures Summit tomorrow to bring creative minds from across the North together so that we can grow more ideas like this into a reality.”
Figures released just days ago revealed the North East welcomed 222,000 visitors from abroad between January and June, showing an uplift of 25% on the same six months of 2013. Spending also rose by 25% over the same period with people from Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands the most likely to visit.
Mr Clegg highlighted attractions including Hadrian’s Wall and Alnwick Castle as major tourist draws in the North.