Northumberland told to follow tourism example set by the Lake District
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He said the county should be promoting other areas that could also be popular with tourists rather than just the already-booming coastline – much like neighbouring Cumbria has aimed to do.
The cabinet had met to discuss the North East devolution deal, and Coun Sanderson’s comments came after a question from the council’s tourism lead, Coun Jeff Watson.
Coun Watson said: “Tourism in Northumberland is worth over £1 billion. Fifteen per-cent of our population work in it.
“Can we be assured that we will be able to advertise Northumberland as well as the rest of the North East?”
Tourism in Northumberland has experienced a sharp rise in popularity in recent years.
Bamburgh was recently named as Britain’s number one coastal town for the second year in a row, while a report published last September showed that the tourist economy in the county had doubled in the post-covid recovery period.
However, it is still lagging behind Cumbria – Northumberland’s tourism economy topped £1 billion for the first time in 2018, while Cumbria’s visitor economy contributed £3.1 billion in 2019.
Responding to Coun Watson, Coun Sanderson said: “I think in Northumberland we are now beginning to look more seriously at how the Lake District look at their tourism offer. Sometimes it is necessary to explain to tourists that it is not just the coast that is so great in the county.
“We have the Cheviots, Simonside and across, and the south east. All parts of Northumberland should be visited and will be of interest to tourists, whatever part of Northumberland we’re talking about.
“One of our first actions should be how we can encourage tourism to move around the county more and pick some of the attractions we have in the south east, such as the lovely South Beach play area, the Blyth Battery and a number of areas over in the west and in the north as well.
“We will continue to give our all to tourism support. I think extra funding will come in to help us look at how we move forward over the next ten years.”