TOURISM chiefs should create a regional body to bolster the multi-million pound industry, the North East Chamber of Commerce has said.
The English Tourist Board has been urged to match their structure in line with Local Enterprise Partnerships in order to ensure the North East builds on its impressive tourism offer.
The North East Chamber of Commerce has made the recommendation as part of its submission on changes to the way Government tourism cash is spent. Jonathan Walker, the Chamber’s head of member relations, said: “North East England has a vibrant tourism industry, encompassing modern visitor attractions, internationally recognised heritage sites and unique landscapes.
“The sector makes a significant contribution to the North East economy yet has a great deal of untapped potential.
“A number of members have reported concerns about the responsiveness of national tourism bodies to the sector in the North East following the abolition of regional development agencies. If the English Tourist Board is to be truly representative of the national industry, it should move towards a model with guaranteed representation for each of the English regions or LEP areas.”
But the region’s leading tourist group last night rubbished the idea.
Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing organisation Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, said: “It is unrealistic to suggest that Government would fund the creation of regional tourism bodies.
“The focus of support and resources is on local tourism organisations, through which significant success in growing local tourism economies has been demonstrated.
“Newcastle Gateshead Initiative is a prime example of this, while the Northern Tourism Alliance works together to ensure that we make the most of opportunities where we can work together and helps to maintain a consistent voice for the North East visitor economy.”