Northumberland Tourism director, Jude Leitch, is to leave the company after four years in charge.
Jude first joined in 2009 as marketing manager responsible for raising Northumberland’s profile as an emerging English tourism destination.
Since assuming the director’s role, Jude has worked with partners across the county’s tourism industry, encouraging improved quality and innovative development to enhance the county’s reputation for exceptional landscapes, amazing wildlife and unique culture.
During this time the number of visitors to the county has risen by nearly 8% with the economic benefit from tourism rising 9% to over £924million at last count.
As a member of both the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Beauty Partnership and North East England Nature Partnership, Jude was concerned that tourism contributed to the preservation and enhancement of Northumberland’s valuable natural resources so that these could be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
She also encouraged the county’s young people to consider tourism careers through her position on the Northumberland College Board of Governors and as chairman of Kirkley Hall Ltd, the company managing the College’s Kirkley Hall Zoo.
Nationally, Jude represents the county as chairman of the Tourism Management Institute and chairs the National Rural Tourism Group, lobbying government for changes to benefit tourism businesses and support to help rural tourism areas compete.
In 2018 Northumberland was crowned ‘Best County/Destination’ in the British Tourism Awards, establishing the county as Britain’s favourite ‘staycation’ choice.
Jude said: “I have been privileged to be part of the Northumberland Tourism team during a time of great change for our county’s tourism offer.
"Our stunning countryside and natural assets like our dark skies have been known to some for many years, but the enthusiasm and innovation of the people in our tourism organisations and businesses means we now offer some of the best accommodation, attractions and experiences in the country.
" I’m very proud that Northumberland is admired across the national tourism industry and I’m sure tourism will continue to play a significant part in the county’s prosperity."
David Hall, chairman of Northumberland Tourism’s Board of Directors said “Jude will now concentrate on the Bed & Breakfast business she runs with her partner on the Northumberland coast."