Review of tourism gets under way

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A REVIEW is under way to see how the management and marketing of Northumberland’s multi-million pound tourism industry can best be delivered in the future.

The work, which is being led by Northumberland County Council and key tourism partners, aims to develop a new approach for tourism delivery in the county designed to grow Northumberland’s visitor economy through co-ordinating all partners and making the most of available funding and resources.

Tourism in Northumberland is currently delivered by a variety of partners but with the forthcoming closure of One North East in March 2012, funding has been reduced.

This means there is a need to establish new and clear ways of delivering services in support of tourism and the wider visitor economy in the county.

To support the review, the county council has funded a piece of work which looks at how other destinations are responding to the changes. It considered how best to help tourism generate the greatest economic impact for Northumberland’s visitor economy.

Coun Neil Bradbury, the county council’s executive member for customer relations and culture, 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.”

Consultation and discussions with the tourism industry have taken place with tourism associations and organisations inputting their views and recommendations at workshop sessions and meetings during December.

Since the consultation began, many tourism organisations have come forward to help the industry work together to develop more detailed plans.

After a number of potential models were considered in detail the review recommends 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.

David Hall, head of corporate affairs at Northumbrian Water and a board member of Northumberland Tourism, said: “This is a real opportunity for the private sector to work with others to drive forward tourism growth in Northumberland. As part of the review we have been consulting widely with the tourism industry and I am very encouraged that plans have received positive feedback from local businesses with many organisations already volunteering to help with the next stage of business planning.”

Consultation is continuing on the detail of the proposals with new arrangements set to be in place by April 1, 2012.