Plans unveiled to support tourism in county beauty spot

The Northumberland National Park Authority has approved new measures to support tourism and welcome visitors to the northern valleys and Cheviot Hills.

The plans have been developed following the recent closure of the National Park’s visitor centres at Ingram and Rothbury in the wake of a 30 per cent budget cut over the three years to 2014.

The authority has moved to put in place some alternative visitor provision for the coming season and is determined to find ways to reduce the impact of the closures.

Chairman of the authority, John Riddle, said: “In the short-term we will continue to discuss, with any interested party, options for alternative delivery of the services provided from our two visitor centres at Rothbury and Ingram.

“If there remains any viable alternative we will be happy to explore them.

“Meanwhile, the authority feels it is important to take action to put alternative measures in place in time for the 2013 visitor season and in the medium-term explore ways of mitigating the impact of the closures.”

Among a wide array of planned activity, the authority approved measures in the short-term to ensure that visitors can orientate and guide themselves to places of interest by providing road signs, on-site information boards and enhanced interpretation at business sites and National Park car parks.

It is also planned to enhance existing information points located in local tea rooms, cafes and shops, and seek new partnership sites.

The authority also wants to develop a new cadre of volunteers as a National Park Welcome Team, with a view to being out and about in the Park at stopping points to assist visitors during the season.

In the medium-term, the authority approved measures to develop enhanced information points.

Local business ambassadors will also be sought and trained to orientate, inform and inspire Park visitors.

Partnerships will be explored with local groups such as village hall committees with a view to providing out-of-hours visitor information and temporary exhibitions.

New innovations in digital, mobile and social media, will be looked at to provide handy Park information.