County reviews future tourism plans

MEMBERS of Northumberland County Council are reviewing the way its multi-million pound tourism industry can be best delivered.

The work aims to develop a new approach for tourism delivery, designed to grow Northumberland’s visitor economy through co-ordinating all partners and making the most of available funding and resources.

Coun Neil Bradbury, the county’s executive member for customer relations and culture, said: “Tourism is critical to Northumberland’s economy. We are continuing to support our tourism businesses and are turning the challenge of much-reduced funding into an opportunity to put the local tourism industry in the driving seat.

“As a council, we plan to protect our investment in tourism, despite the financial challenges we are facing, as we see tourism as an important part of our economic growth plans.”

Tourism in Northumberland is delivered by a variety of partners but with the closure of One North East in March 2012, funding has been reduced significantly.

To support the review, the county council has funded work which has looked at how other destinations are responding to the changes. It considered how best to help tourism generate the greatest economic impact for Northumberland’s visitor economy.

Consultation and discussions with the industry have taken place, with associations and organisations giving their views and recommendations.

Many tourism organisations have come forward to help develop detailed plans.

After a number of potential models were considered in detail, the review recommends setting up a new partnership. A small core team would work alongside key tourism partners to deliver marketing, product development and business engagement.

This proposal, which is being tested with partners, would see organisations coming together to add support through investment or in-kind assistance.

Consultation is continuing on the detail of the proposals with new arrangements set to be in place by April 1, 2012.