In Employability and inclusion, News, Skills, Transport and connectivity

A consortium of North East partners has today (Friday 28 June) welcomed the Government’s tourism sector deal announcement and set out the region’s intention to bid to become a Tourism Zone.

Part of the UK Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy, the new tourism sector deal will stimulate further growth and improve the productivity and performance of the sector across the country.

Developed in partnership with the British Tourist Authority and Industry, it will support the creation of 10,000 apprenticeships, 130,000 new hotel rooms – 75% of those being built outside of London – a new Tourism Data Hub to better target overseas visitors and improvements to disabled facilities and access to destinations across the country.

Another key feature of the tourism sector deal are plans to pilot up to five Tourism Zones to drive visitor numbers across the country. Each Tourism Zone will receive Government support to grow its local visitor economy through various initiatives, including product and promotion development, mentoring support for businesses and digital skills training.

A consortium of North East organisations including NewcastleGateshead Initiative, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), North of Tyne Combined Authority, North East Combined Authority and regional partners have today indicated their commitment to bid for the North East to become a Tourism Zone.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “As well as supporting thousands of jobs across the region, tourism generates millions of pounds for the local economy.

“Our cultural, heritage and natural environment assets, which include two world heritage sites, are important drivers for the local economy. Special events like Kynren in Country Durham and the Great North Run in Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside, attract visitors from all over the world who spend money in our hotels, restaurants, shops and businesses.

“Government’s tourism sector deal gives us an opportunity to further strengthen our tourism offer in the region by investing in new products, infrastructure and skills to position us as one of the best destinations to visit in the UK.

“The Strategic Economic Plan for the North East shows the importance of improving skills to boost the economy. If we are successful in our bid to become a Tourism Zone we can deliver a greater tourism experience and help support growth in the sector by investing in people to create more and better jobs.”

Leader of Northumberland County Council, Cllr Peter Jackson, and North of Tyne Combined Authority Portfolio Lead for Place and Productivity said: “One of the most distinctive features of tourism in the North East of England is the sheer diversity of our offer, across a range of natural, environmental, heritage and cultural assets.

“As an integral part of the region’s economy, we see tremendous scope to continue to enhance and improve the quality of the whole visitor experience, from a domestic and inbound perspective, with the tourism sector deal providing a great opportunity for us to further strengthen the way we work together to achieve this.

“It’s absolutely essential therefore that we have the right infrastructure for our visitors both in terms of transport and digital connectivity, before, during and after their stay.

“We want visitors to have the best possible experience, and get the most out of their visit here to ensure they come back time and time again.”

Councillor Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council and Vice-Chair of the North East Leadership Board, Thematic Lead for Finance and Skills and Employment of the North East Combined Authority, said: “There is huge potential for the visitor economy in the North East to grow and a deal for this sector is most welcome.

“We are developing attractions and infrastructure that matches the increasing demands of residents and visitors, as well as promoting ourselves to investors, businesses and students from outside the region.

“We already have world-class visitor attractions including the NewcastleGateshead Quayside, the Great North Run, World Heritage Sites, the North East coast, the Lumiere light festival, Alnwick Garden and Angel of the North, to name just a few.

“Substantial investments have already been made in the Great Exhibition of the North, The Sill visitor centre on Hadrian’s Wall, sporting events such as the European Rugby and Cricket World Cup, and historic attractions such as Auckland Castle and Kynren.

“This is being matched with more and better hotels, restaurants, conference facilities, and visitor centres as well as better coordination and communication of the region’s offer.”

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement of the tourism sector deal and the opportunity it presents to work with partners in the region to further strengthen our tourism offer. Attracting visitors to the North East creates a sense of place which benefits local communities, as well as changing perceptions and attitudes of the region.

“The tourism industry is already the fourth largest sector in the North East with an attractive visitor offer of vibrant and cultural city centres through to beautiful countryside and coastlines.

“If successful with our bid, a Tourism Zone will strengthen the sector and amplify the wider economic and social benefits of encouraging people to move and work here, students to study here and businesses to invest here. It will also enable us to build on past and planned developments in the sector, such as the new £260m arena, conference and exhibition centre on Gateshead Quays which will put the region in an even stronger position to attract major national and international events.”

To read the more about the Government’s new tourism sector deal, visit www.gov.uk.

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