CRUISE ships coming into Blyth could help put the borough on the map in a drive to boost tourism across Northumberland.
Blyth Valley Council is supporting the principle of a Northumberland Area Tourism Partnership (ATP) which could open up opportunities for the Port of Tyne to welcome visitors into the borough.
The ATP is being developed to get organisations working together on a visitor policy to promote the county.
And it is hoped that it will help Blyth Valley develop new initiatives including walking and cycling routes, festivals and events, leisure and cruise developments in Blyth Harbour and local industrial heritage.
A management plan currently undergoing consultation identifies opportunities for Blyth to be seen as an entry point to Northumberland from major international markets with the potential for the Port of Blyth to act as a cruise tourism gateway – the only port in the county with depths to accommodate large vessels.
Coun Deirdre Campbell said: "The possibility of cruise ships coming into Blyth as a ferry terminal is great, why didn't we think of this a long time ago?
"It would be ideal to bring people in and take people out.
"We would be in competition with North Shields but could put Blyth on the map. We have so much to offer here."
The ATP could also see the industrial, maritime and wartime heritage of Blyth Valley promoted as well as its links to Experience Nothumberland@Woodhorn.
Council chiefs say participation in the ATP will not only help to promote the borough's attractions as part of the wider initiative, but also help to secure better funding for tourism across the area.
A report to cabinet members said: "The recent Blyth Maritime Festival was a clear indication of the potential we hold within the borough to attract visitors and engage the community with their culture and heritage.
"We need to build on this and our achievements in Ridley Park, Blyth Quayside and Seaton Sluice Watch House, by recognising the value of our cultural assets in making the borough a more interesting place to live, work and visit."
But some council members fear that the needs of Blyth Valley will be lost in the wider initiative.
Coun Wayne Daley said: "I welcome the report, but there is a real danger of us being swallowed up by Tyne Valley with one of the most marketable attractions in Northumberland – Hadrian's Wall.
"There are a lot of hidden attractions in Blyth Valley."
Council leader Coun Dave Stephens added: "It is a positive move forward but it has to allow for the different areas.
"The needs will be different for Hexham, Berwick and Blyth Valley, for example."
The move to create a Northumberland ATP comes under a major restructure of the tourism industry in the region.
The Northumberland ATP is expected to be up and running by April next year.