North of England gets £10m tourism investment
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North of England gets £10m tourism investment

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced £10m of additional funding for tourism in the north of England.

Speaking on the eve of the recent Northern Futures Summit in Leeds, Clegg said: “It’s absurd that our great north is missing out on visitors, when it boasts such stunning countryside, history and culture. I’m putting funding in place for there to be a clear strategy for tourism in the north.”

The announcement comes on the back of Clegg’s Northern Futures Project – an economic consultation which was launched in July to deal with a range of issues from transport to technology and training. The £10m will be used to “bring harmony” to the 29 individual tourism bodies of the north to enable them to more effectively market the region and its cities.

The money will come from the Regional Growth Fund and will be channelled through VisitEngland via the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said he welcomed the additional boost which comes on the back of £19.8m from the Regional Growth Fund in 2012, saying: “This programme has generated £527m in additional tourism spend and a record number of 9,800 jobs.”

Berresford added that the new initiative “clearly demonstrates tourism is being recognised as a key driver of the economy which creates important jobs throughout the country.”

The Northern Futures Summit – a one-off event organised by the Northern Futures Project – called for ideas to build a strong economic core in the heart of the region. The stimulation of tourism was one of nine themes chosen for the summit.

Gary Verity, CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire, who was instrumental in bringing the Tour de France to the north, said there’s a need to “capitalise on the north’s under-exploited tourism potential by collaborating effectively across the region to build a stronger brand overseas and significantly increase visitor numbers”. Currently, 4.5 times as many visitors seek out London as a destination rather than the north, while Scotland has twice as many tourists as Yorkshire or the whole of the north west.

Clegg said that rather than the customary trip to Abbey Road in London, Beatles fans could visit Penny Lane and the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. Or instead of Windsor Castle, they could tour Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, used as the setting for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

This central government move further highlights how tourism – now Britain’s fifth largest export industry – is likely to feature as a key issue in the run up to next year’s General Election.

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced £10m of additional funding for tourism in the north of England.
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