Work starts to promote tourism in the face of cuts

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MOVES are under way to work out the best ways of promoting Northumberland as a tourist destination in the face of funding cuts.

A review, which is being led by the county council and key tourism partners, aims to develop a new approach for the sector as support will no longer be available from regional development agency One North East when it is wound up in March.

After a number of potential models were considered, the group has recommended setting up a new partnership.

A small core team would work alongside key tourism partners to deliver marketing, product development and business engagement.

This proposal, which is currently being tested with partners, would see tourism organisations coming together to add support through investment or in-kind assistance.

To support the review, Northumberland County Council has funded a piece of work which has looked at how other destinations are responding to the changes.

It considered how best to help tourism generate the greatest economic impact for the county’s visitor economy.

Executive Member for Customer Relations and Culture Neil Bradbury said: “Tourism is critical to Northumberland’s economy. We are continuing to support our local tourism businesses and are turning the challenge of much reduced funding into an opportunity to put the local tourism industry in the driving seat.

“As a council, we plan to protect our investment in tourism, despite the financial challenges we are facing, as we see tourism as an important part of our economic growth plans.”

Tourism makes up 11.8 per cent of Northumberland’s economy, 2.7 per cent higher than the national average, and contributes £665million each year.

More than 10,700 full-time jobs are supported by direct tourism expenditure in Northumberland and a further 2,200 full-time jobs are supported by indirect revenue from the sector.

Consultation and discussions with the tourism industry are taking place, with many organisations coming forward to help develop the plans.

New arrangements are expected to be in place by April 1.